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Regular news: Issue 575 15 Jul 2011

Bath drops BRT route and Eastern P&R site

Bus

Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) this week scrapped plans for a segregated bus rapid transit (BRT) route and new park-and-ride site in the city.

The measures were key components of the £58.8m Bath transport package, one of the development pool projects vying for funding from the DfT.

The original plan was for a cross-city bus service to link an expanded Newbridge park-and-ride site in the west with a new 1,400-space Eastern P&R site close to the A4 Batheaston bypass. Between Newbridge and the city centre a 1.4km segregated route was proposed, making use of a former railway corridor. This attracted fierce local opposition, with concerns about damage to open spaces and noise pollution.

The Liberal Democrat minority administration, which took control of the council from the Conservatives in May, has now dropped the segregated BRT route and Eastern P&R, and scaled back the expansion of the existing P&R site at Newbridge.

The number of new park-and-ride spaces in the package has been cut from 2,400 to just 870.

Plans for bus lanes on the A36 and A4 have also been scrapped.

The changes have reduced the cost of the package to £34.3m. But officers this week warned that the DfT may reject the council’s new funding proposal.

In January, BANES pledged to contribute £17.8m to the original package. But last month the council floated the idea of reducing this to £8.8m, pointing out that the scaled-down plans would also cut the DfT’s contribution from £35.8m to £25.8m.

Transport minister Norman Baker has since told the council that he expects the £17.8m offer to be retained in the best and final offer to be submitted to the DfT later this year.

Peter Dawson, BANES’ group manager for planning, policy and transport, said this week that reducing the local contribution “would appear to increase the risk of the DfT rejecting the funding bid”.

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