Expect to see cabbies dancing in the ranks tomorrow evening. The Cabinet will be handing them a wealth of new business, as key bus services for this major city are dismantled to appease George Osborne.
The Cabinet's being asked to decide between two intolerable options - both of them cutting deep into those services deemed (until now) to be "socially necessary". In the process, it will hit everyone from schoolchildren to the elderly and disabled, make nonsense of any pretensions to fight climate climate change, to cut air pollution, or to reduce congestion.
Right now, we don't know which option the Cabinet (are there any non-motorists among them?) will impose on us (I'll add to this post when it happens). The papers in front of them at the meeting won't help them choose, they don't spell out out what will be cut, only, scattered about the documents, what might be retained. Sir Humphrey would be proud of it.
It's clear, though, that after September, it will be much harder (if it's possible at all) for any Cabinet Member to catch a bus home after a meeting. At best, evening services on the main city routes will be heavily reduced in the evenings, so that (say) to get back here to Stockwood will involve waiting for the next HOURLY bus. At worst, the last bus will leave around 9.30!
Early morning services face the same threat, while Sunday buses are likely to be halved.
This may all be good news for First; unless passenger numbers are cut pro rata to the number of buses, they'll be able to squeeze more passengers on fewer buses, and pick up a city subsidy at the same time. It's an ill wind....
Meanwhile, over in Nottingham......
......I had the chance last week to try their city-run public transport - the bus and the tram. Cheaper than Bristol, city-wide, high frequency, excellent buses, stops, and information. Routes are branded by colour, and terminate in the centre.
There's a flat fare (£1.60, or £3.40 all-day) plus a whole range of cheaper seasons and group tickets, operating as smart cards, often valid with other operators too. The buses are much quicker, because no change is given and most people use smart cards anyway. And so far as I can see, it's all unthreatened by cuts.
That's what happens where a city has the wisdom to keep its transport operation 'in house'. Tomorrow, Bristol City Council will agree to abandon its last council-owned vehicles, the specialist vehicles dedicated to community transport. Ideological insanity.