A proposed rapid transit scheme that could see a high-speed bus service linking Bradley Stoke with Bristol city centre and Cribbs Causeway has made it through to the final stage of a competitive process to secure Government funding.
The North Fringe to Hengrove Package (NFtHP), a bus rapid transit scheme linking north and south Bristol, which had previously been assigned to the second-tier “pre-qualification” pool, has now been promoted to the top-tier “development” pool of 45 proposed transport projects competing for £630m of Government funding.
An announcement by the Department for Transport (DfT) last Friday (4th February) stated:
“The Department hopes to fund the majority of the schemes now in the development pool subject to their business cases being of an acceptable standard. However, the total likely funding request to DfT is nearly £950m, so the process remains competitive and local authorities will need to look for further savings to stand a good chance of funding.”
The DfT says it will decide on the schemes to be funded by the end of 2011.
The scheme is doubly important to the Bradley Stoke area because as well as promising much improved bus services it also incorporates the building of a Stoke Gifford by-pass, linking Great Stoke Way with the Avon Ring Road via a new bridge over the London to Bristol railway line.
The West of England Partnership (WoEP), which is fronting the NFtHP bid on behalf of South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and Bristol City Council, originally estimated the total cost of the scheme at £194m with £170m funded by the Government and £24 from local sources.
In the latest submission to the DfT at the beginning of January, big cuts to the scope of the scheme saw the total cost reduced to £102m with a Government contribution of £51m and local funding rocketing from 12% to 50% of the total.
Cost savings made include:
- Revising the route between the Aztec West Roundabout and Cribbs Causeway to run on the A38 instead of passing through the Aztec West Business Park and emerging on Coniston Road in Patchway.
- Replacement of a guided busway with conventional bus priority [lanes] and the retention of existing roundabouts [through] Bradley Stoke.
- Reduction of the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (by-pass) from dual carriageway to single carriageway with additional bus priority [lane] in one direction (either north or southbound).
- Deferral of the previously proposed M32 park and ride site close to the Coldharbour Lane bridge.
The projected completion date of the scheme, should it be approved, has also slipped by a year to March 2018.
Cllr Brian Allinson, SGC’s executive member for planning, transport and strategic environment, said:
“I am delighted that the Minister for Transport has recognised the strength of the North Fringe to Hengrove business case. This scheme will transform public transport in South Gloucestershire, reducing congestion, improving road safety, air quality and access to jobs. The council is determined to improve our local public transport provision and support our economy and this announcement is a major milestone on that journey.”
- Strategic Business Case, Dec 2010 (WoEP) [PDF, 12.3MB]
- Department for Transport press release, Feb 2011
- North Fringe to Hengrove Package (The Journal)
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