Letter to Voters by Marvin Rees: Improving transport, getting our underground

This article was paid for by Mayor Marvin Rees’ re-election campaign, based at CWU, 20 Church Road, Lawrence Hill, Bristol, BS5 9JA. For too long, Bristol has been congested and polluted. When it comes to tackling these problems, our local councils have felt as gridlocked as the city’s roads.

We’ve grabbed transport in the city by the scruff of the neck – recognising that to build a better Bristol where nobody is left behind, we need a transport system where people can get around at as little cost to them and to the planet as possible. As a born and bred Bristolian, I know the Council’s history of inaction. We have refused to let the organisation keep the city waiting for decades more at a red light.

Feasibility studies have shown that an underground would stack up for our city and region, and will win the backing of national government and international investors. Bristolians need us to get on with it. The case is clear.

Underground mass transit systems transport people around Newcastle, Sunderland, Glasgow, and Liverpool, just as they do in hilly Lisbon, Rome, and San Francisco. The numbers add up, and we have been working on the project for many years with the leaders of neighbouring councils from all parties and none. The geology doesn’t stand in the way either, with the geology report making it clear this can be built.

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We will transform the way we move around our city, continuing to make our case for a low-carbon underground mass transit system, beginning by better connecting south Bristol to the airport at Lulsgate and our city centre.

East Bristol communities severed by the M32 and ignored by existing Metrobus routes can be connected, together with a northern line serving Southmead Hospital and beyond and a south-eastern corridor out towards Bath and Keynsham. In the meantime, since 2016, we have been improving Bristol’s transport in the here and now.

99 new bio-gas buses are on our streets, with the whole fleet due to be up to standard in coming months; our Bus Deal with First has started to double the frequency of services, starting with the number 2; and plans for a regular circular bus loop around the city centre are moving forward at pace.

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New train stations are coming through for Ashley Down, Portway, Bristol Arena, and Henbury, with funding to look properly at re-opening St Anne’s Park. Outside the city, we’ve supported the Portishead line to reduce commuter traffic and are pushing forward with strategic plans for a ring of Park and Rides too – including at the M32 and Hicks Gate.

We are confident that we can deliver free travel for apprentices and students under the age of 25, as we continue to clean up our fleet. At the same time, we are investing to make our roads safer for everyone by fixing potholes, segregating cycleways, and adding bus lanes to make public and active travel a more reliable alternative for trips that do not need a private vehicle, while we begin to work with fellow Bristolians on local Liveable Neighbourhoods. Our record is strong – and our bold ideas for the future can connect all communities to opportunities as we continue to build a City of Hope where nobody is left behind.

This article was paid for by Mayor Marvin Rees’ re-election campaign, based at CWU, 20 Church Road, Lawrence Hill, Bristol, BS5 9JA.