First in line

Mark Bradshaw, Labour’s architect of the plans to convert the Bristol and Bath Cycle Path into a rapid transit route, is very keen to play down any role First Bus – Bristol’s most hated firm – might have in the plans.

Bradshaw says in his press release, in a deliberate attempt to play down the political difficulties of the First Bus issue, “I want to make clear that no contracts have been awarded regarding the rapid transit operators.”

A perfectly true statement as far as it goes. However the Bristol Cycling Campaign have already discovered courtesy of a Freedom of Information request that there are at least two First employees – John Birtwhistle and Clive Bryant – on Bradshaw’s ‘Bus Rapid Transport Project Board’ who are responsible for developing the plans.

Widespread rumour also suggests that no other bus company will seriously compete for the contract because the major public transport companies allegedly have an informal deal where they carve up between them the different regions they are going to work in.

This seemed to be confirmed by a poster on The Blogger recently who described attending a transport consultation event where he was openly told by a council officer: “First and stagecoach have a gentleman’s agreement not to work on each others patch”.

Such a cartel between public transport companies is of course illegal. Which makes you wonder why our local government transport officers are glibly telling members of the public who walk in off the street about this arrangement rather than preparing a case on our behalf for the competition commission.

But then a local government officer – maybe looking to use their transport expertise to make that lucrative move into the private sector at a later date in their career – doesn’t want to be seen to be rocking the boat or upsetting potential employers do they?

This entry was posted in Bristol, Bristol West, Environment, FOI, Labour Party, Local government, Politics, Transport and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to First in line

  1. paul smith says:

    This begs the question when was the rapid transport board set up and who decided who would be on it? Surely if the cycle path was in the frame Sustrans should have had as much right to be on it as First Bus who have a vested interest in promoting the bus solution to Bristol’s transport woes.

  2. Peter Goodwin says:

    Good point, Paul. The cycle campaign did well to get these papers out in the open.

    The Greens have used them to pick up on the calculated ‘green spin’ that’s to be used in the attempt to push this through. See

    I don’t think the promoters ever wondered how green it is to reroute buses off the main roads or off the M32 route that was planned, and put them on the country’s most popular cycle route instead.

  3. SteveL says:

    I think they all started off with good intentions. But the Bus Rapid Transit group were given a goal : come up with a plan for BRT. They ended up missing the point “come up with a plan to reduce car use and congestion”, and went for the ‘disused railway’ (The A4 portway is also a disused railway, incidentally). Too bad the railway is the one of the best bike paths in Bristol (The others are probably up for sale in Ashton Court). Its even worse that there is nothing at Emerson’s Green for the BRT buses.

    BTW, the feb 5 meeting is now at the Easton Leisure Centre: too many people expected for Cornubia.

  4. Gary Hopkins says:

    Hm let me see . Labour government cancels tram and prevents local councils raising funds to get on. Labour administration in Bristol (Bradshaw) salutes the flag and asks how high to jump and Labour “Alderman”,ex Cllr Smith , parliamentry candidate and chair of Bristol Labour party says its nothing to do with them. Par for the course really. What next Red Dawn Primarola going all nuclear .

  5. So Gary Hopkins, what is the view of your leader Cllr Steve Comer on putting a bus route on the cyclepath? Are Lib Dems part of the problem (for the plan) or the solution (put buses on the roads not on the cyclepath)??

  6. Bristol Dirt Bag says:

    Ever noticed how these mad schemes to “cut carbon emmissions and reduce road traffic” always seem to come at the expense of cyclists and pedestrians rather than car drivers? This demented idea will do nothing but discourage a lot of people who cycle and walk from doing so. The point of the cycle track is that it doesn’t have motor vehicles whizzing past at god knows what speed.

  7. Bluebaldee says:

    Yet another cracking wheeze from our terminally cretinous friends at the Council House.

    Put a bus route on the UK’s most popular cycle path – a local resource which should be treasured by our political representatives. How stupid can they get?

    I frequently complain about the lack of investment in Bristol’s public transport and the lack of a viable alternative to the car. I’m forever moaning about Bristol City Council’s total inability to do anything about our woeful transport situation – and for bloody good reason when they come up with tosh like this.

    I mean do Labour ever, ever want to be elected in this city again?

    Why don’t they just go the whole hog, break into your house and shit in your underwear drawer?

    They really couldn’t get much more unpopular.

    This is a god-awful idea. Why can’t they run the bloody BRT line down Fishponds Rd and onto the M32? It’s supposed to be RAPID Transit, it doesn’t need to stop every 300 metres.

    And why on earth are our local dimwits careering on with BRT projects? They haven’t even had the funding approved for their last crackpot idea – “Shitcase” buses.

    Yes, buses with a silly name, a few digital readouts at bus stops, the odd raised curb and bus lanes that run nowhere for 200m at a time. All for £5million each.

    Money well spent!!

    Either Bradshaw is mad, or he’s getting very well paid by First.

    He seems to be trying to disassociate himself from them with indecent haste in his press release, despite the fact that they’re represented on the BRT Project Board.

    Does the sheer idiocy and incompetence of our local representatives know no bounds?

  8. Pingback: Anyone for mental health issues? Part 1 « The Bristol Blogger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.