Friday, 27 March 2009
What bus? and where?
Here I am, shoulder to shoulder with Bristol Labour Party's finest. Mark Bradshaw's put up a petition to keep the 'TravelShop' on Colston Avenue open. His signature is quickly joined by others from the Labour front bench. And by mine.
It's all provoked by the First Bus decision to pull out of its partnership with the council in running the shop. As they provided the staff, that can only mean closure - unless the council brings back some of its own public transport staff to do the job.
I've already tabled questions about the closure for answer by Mark Bradshaw's successor, Jon Rogers, at the full council meeting on Tuesday - most of all to ask how they'll provide an 'over-the-counter' information and advice service to the travelling public if the TravelShop is allowed to close.
Oddly enough, Mark Bradshaw has his own questions to put to Jon Rogers at the same meeting, but he's using them to perpetuate a myth of his own making, in true Mandelsonian style. He's looking for confirmation "that a transport interchange at Temple Meads remains a key component of the (rapid transit) bid"
Transport interchange, eh? This is the site he has in mind. Of course it will look different by then. The rapid transit bus from Long Ashton P&R will call here at a stop (described as a 'docking station'!) so that Temple Meads passengers can dismount with their luggage, walk on through a new subway under Temple Way, then continue through a new office-retail-residential development, all the way to the railway station. Other buses (at least, those buses that come anywhere near Temple Meads) will continue to use Temple Way. Not a good place to transfer between buses, bus to train, BRT to ferry etc. etc. But that's Mr Bradshaw's idea of an interchange.
The proposal for a REAL interchange is quite different. It would have buses from all over the city converging on a hub immediately outside the 'Digby Wyatt Shed' at Temple Meads - click the picture and you can see it as the brick building in the distance. Network Rail and First want to turn the Digby Wyatt shed into a state-of-the-art concourse for Temple Meads passengers; all mod cons like real-time information, ticketting and advice, seating, light, safety, refreshments, retail. And there's stacks of room to cater for bus, ferry, and rapid transit passengers in just the same way - instead of leaving them at the scatter of exposed shelters somewhere near the station.
My own petition for this has drawn some very positive public response, but for some reason none of the Labour, Tory, or LibDem councillors has yet signed up to it. Nor has Kerry McCarthy MP, who's playing for time by trotting out the Bradshaw docking station/ interchange myth. That's especially surprising, given that few of her Bristol East constituents can get to Temple Meads in a single bus journey.
You can't help wondering if they've all been nobbled by the site owners or developers, who want to cover the lot with more offices, flats, and shops. Such things do happen!