It looks like Mark Bradshaw’s Bus Rapid Transit policy for the city is in meltdown.
For starters it’s now been announced that the public CONsultation promised for this spring has been very abruptly “delayed”. Why we’re not being told. But surely it can’t have anything to do with the widespread public disquiet and distrust Bradshaw’s plan to put a rapid transit route on the Bristol and Bath Railway path has caused can it?
Indeed is it possible that the city council doesn’t actually believe its own publicity that campaigners against their plan are a “vocal minority” and that any CONsultation they launch at present is likely to come to the wrong conclusion? ie. Overwhelmingly reject a BRT route on the Railway Path.
That, of course, would ruin the whole purpose of a Bristol City Council CONsultation, which is not to find out what people really think and adjust their policy accordingly as you might think. Instead a public CONsultation is actually a massive PR exercise with the express purpose of convincing people to rubber stamp a – usually irreversible – decision already taken by the council.
Not surprisingly no new date is yet forthcoming from Bradshaw as to when he might launch his new CONsultation although expect him, the Labour Party, Caplan and the rest of the council’s PR team to be engaging in plenty of softening up exercises while they decide. It’s probably fair to assume that the recent fatuous announcement from Bradshaw that he wanted to turn Bristol into a “Cycle City” is only the beginning on this front.
Bradshaw has also performed a u-turn with regards to the potential route of the BRT. Further minutes released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Lib Dems – ostensibly to try and clear their gasbag former Transport Exec, Dennis Brown, of any blame for the BRT fiasco – clearly indicate Bradshaw had assented to CONsultants Steer Davies Gleave pursuing the BRT route on the railway path only.
What else is a minute (pdf) headed “Endorsement of the Project Initiation Document to progress the prioritised route to major scheme bid submission” meant to mean?
But now we learn, eight months later, Bradshaw has allegedly reinstructed CONsultants Steer Davies Gleave – at what cost we don’t know – to produce three new options: one using the M32 and A432; one using the Bristol and Bath Railway Path; and a third option combining the two.
He has also urgently pulled a West of England Partnership document published earlier this month called ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ (Blogger Passim), stating unequivocally that the next BRT route “would be alongside the Bristol and Bath Railway Path”.
All it needs now is for Bradshaw to step off a plane asking “Crisis? What crisis?” really.