Can We Fix It; Yes We Can
Sadly, the indefatigable optimism of Bob is often less than apparent when cities decided to “go tram”.
Whatever happened to Transport for London’s proposal to run trams from Camden …
… to Peckham and Brixton?
It died a quick death after being lodged in the “all too difficult” part of the filing cabinet.
Having emigrated to the Isle of Wight from Sheffield, fbb well remembers hearing the horror stories of the building of the Supertram. West Street (future street running) completely closed …
… High Street (the main bus stops in the centre) with seemingly eternal disruption …
… and the huge Park Square roundabout a total mess.
Sheffield folk became utterly fed up with the tram!
So how would Bristol react if the Metrobus routes were turned into tram routes as a precursor to re-tramming the city throughout?
What a big tram project needs is (in order of importance; perhaps?)
Oodles of external funding.
Buckets of local Political will.
Huge support from the travelling public.
Huge support from the traders who suffer the build.
The chances of getting even one of these is slim – but all four …
The first two (external funding and full local political support) really go together. If the vast expense is not going to be a burden on the council tax payer there is no real reason for the councillors to object.
Some will, of course, object as a matter of political principle.
Support from the passenger and potential passenger is all about aspirational service and cheap fares.
In Europe, cheap fares are very much a normality. In Angers, for example, …
… a single ticket with an Oyster Card equivalent is less than £1.50. This allows you to travel “for one hour”. The hour lasts from touch in/tap on/ping the thing until the final touch/tap/ping which can be 60 minutes after the first. So in Angers you could be riding for one hour plus the length of the final journey you have tapped/touched/pinged.
The current UK £2 fare is not cheap enough. In Taunton, local fares have been reduced to £1 and passenger numbers have increased by 26%.
Getting support from city traders who see their customers deserting them in favour of out-of-town shopping “Malls” is harder to achieve, but free rates during the tram build would help!
So, here follows a virtual drive round part of the city centre circle today showing how trams could be made to fit in. Please note that Mayor Marvin’s marvellous plan has altered layouts on some of these roads since the Streets were Viewed. But this alteration should make plonking in some tram track easier.
We Start At The Centre …
… which isn’t the centre of anywhere.
First there was the River Frome …
… which was filled in and popped into a culvert and it is still in its pipe today!
Then it became “The Tramway Centre” …
… and then an oval-about with car park in the middle.
Then the car park became a garden …
… and now, extended still further over the river, it has become two parallel roads with “stuff” in between.
At the northern end of the right hand road, the Metrobus routes stop …
… in both directions. (C1 and C2, square blobs).
From here the is a substantial oodle of bus laneage …
… and so on into two one way streets where stops B1 and B2 are located …
… also with laybys and bus lanes a-plenty.
There is room.
Then comes the big roundabout called St James Barton.
St James is a nearby church and a “barton” is a patch of land owned by someone or some organisation. So St James Priory …
… owned a large roundabout?
It fulfills a role as being an almost permanent traffic jam. But an enlightened city might choose to take the tram straight across the middle on a really attractive bridge. A smaller version of this one at Angers would do the trick.
Make the structure fine and open; and it could become a visitor attraction in its own right.
Which brings us to Bond Street …
… where, if white van man doesn’t block the stop as above …
… we find stops S1 and S2 and.lots of road width.
It is worth noting that most “ordinary” buses do not use Bond Street eastbound. They are routed via the Broadmead shopping centre (Horsefair) and the illogically numbered stops S5, S3, S16, S7, S9 and S11.
Finding your bus stop is hard work.
But we see how Metrobus is trying (unsuccessfully) to be a tram. In the main Bristol shopping centre the M1,2,3 and 4 only have three stops.
Things were quite different in 1910.
Could a new tram network ever happen in Bristol? There would be room for it as part of an enlightened and perhaps courageous city transport policy.
Should a new tram network ever happen in Bristol?
Maybe it should – if we are serious about “saving the planet” it should be a priority.
There are a few bits and pieces to complete this series and they will be joined by that Mystery Picture of an Edgelink bus.
Terraforming Part One
Take strips of the fbb’s old Candlewick bedspread, some chunks of plywood, a sludge of Tetrion filler and a Peco plastic tunnel mouth and …
… you are right!
It does look ridiculous. But with the full fbb artistic treatment …
… you will be amazed!!
So will he if it works!
Next Oddments blog : Tuesday 20th July