Monday, 1 February 2010
Another dodgy dossier
Yes.... it's the ring road again. Or rather its second rebranding, as the "South Bristol Link"
And this weeks dodgy dossier is the officers report(pdf)to the Joint Transport Executive Members of the West of England Partnership. It has much in common with the pre-Iraq War dossier on WMD; high on assertions, light on facts, and driven by ideology and the need to get support before a key deadline.
A week ago, councillors from all four local authorities looked at the case for the Ring Road plus Bus Rapid Transit that the Partnership aims to bid for in March.
They weren't satisfied with what they saw. They want more more 'information to be taken into account or work commissioned before a final decision is made'. That's because they were struck above all else by "the incompleteness of the report" (their emphasis), particularly on the economic (jobs and regeneration) performance. They wonder (so do I!) what's happened to work known to have been commissioned to do the economic analysis.
It certainly doesn't appear in the latest report. No reference to any economic analysis, though there's an assertion that benefit to cost ratios come in at a satisfactory 4. Still no commercial appraisal of the BRT service, which even at peak hour isn't expected to carry more than a couple of hundred passengers over its specially laid 7km route. There's confidence enough, though, to claim :
"the scheme will lead to improved accessibility for a number of key sites, and that this will result in increasing employment densities on these sites as well as an overall improvement in the quality of jobs on these sites."
No source for that, though. Maybe they found it on the web in someone's university dissertation?
There are a few stats thrown in, though no source is quoted for them, either. They're not about economics, though, they're about predicted traffic levels, and they don't really suggest the ring road will make much difference anyway! The key DfT yardstick of city-bound journey times is - once again - nowhere to be seen.
There's even a 45 minute claim! It's said to be the average peak journey time from Hartcliffe to the city centre on today's 'showcase' bus, and that (at least for the minority living close to the BRT route), the journey time would be shortened. You'd hope that smart ticketting would by then have cut journey times on all the buses, but that's not mentioned either.
However, all this is not driven by the need to establish whether South Bristol will benefit from a road through it; it's driven by a timetable that requires a bid for 'Programme Entry' in March, and the formal agreement of two Cabinets before that. And that may not happen if the Transport Executives ask too many questions on Thursday.
The S. Bristol Green Party's 'statement'to the meeting does list sixteen questions that need clear positive answers before this scheme goes any further. If we're going to spend 50 million quid (all public money, and a sizeable chunk of it our own) lets show that it's money very well spent. Remember the alternatives we'll be missing out on.