Bristol City Council has suggested introducing a workplace parking levy or a congestion charge to fund significant investments in public transport infrastructure.
The prospect of new levies on motorists is raised in the Bristol Transport Strategy, which sets out how the city’s council plans to tackle challenges affecting journeys such as traffic congestion, growth in housing and jobs, inequality and health problems caused by inactivity and air pollution.
Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, said: “A world class, integrated transport network is essential to Bristol’s future and we need the best approach to delivering our vision for all road users, making us a happier, healthier and economically stronger city. We all know some of the big challenges holding Bristol back when it comes to transport, with congestion being the most significant due to the scale and complexity of the problem. Our vision presents an opportunity to tackle these challenges head on and you can help us to agree the most effective approach.”
A Congestion Task Group has helped the city council shape the direction of the Bristol Transport Strategy, which sets out approaches including:
• A mass transit scheme, such as underground or tram
• Better bus services
• Improved bus and local rail services
• More park & ride sites
• Safer walking and cycling routes
• Road safety improvements
• Investment in technology, such as smartphone apps to help people plan journeys
• Efficient freight movement to consolidate goods into fewer vehicles.
The city council recognises that some measures proposed in the strategy – such as an underground metro – are expensive. “We already receive funding through various sources, such as from central government through bids and allocated funding, from devolved funding through the West of England Combined Authority and from new developments, but we need to be able to fund these types of projects in new ways.”
The council thus proposes either workplace parking levies or a congestion charge as potential ways to raise funding.
It is suggested that workplace parking levies could raise funding to pay for big transport projects and also encourage people to think about whether they want to drive to work if they have to pay for parking at work, which might lead to some people opting to leave their cars at home, helping to tackle congestion.
A road user charging or congestion charge could also raise funding to pay for big transport projects as well as encourage people to use a different mode of transport than the car to help tackle congestion.
The council also flags up increases in council tax and business rates, but sets out problems with these two options. “Unless council tax is raised by a lot, it is unlikely on its own to raise enough funds for big transport projects,” the draft strategy states. “Raising rates that businesses pay to the council could help raise funds to pay for big transport projects. However, as like the council tax increase, it is unlikely on its own to raise enough funds for big transport projects.”
The city council also believes a new approach to parking management will reduce congestion and encourage a switch to public transport, walking and cycling. The draft strategy states that on-street and off-street parking need to be managed efficiently to encourage use of sustainable transport and tackle congestion, while providing options that support the city’s 24 hour economy.
The council said it will look into the amount of parking on the street and in car parks. “If there is a lot of parking available, more people might think about driving into the city that adds to congestion at the busiest times during the day. We will also look at the price of parking as a way to get people to leave their cars at home and travel to the busiest areas by other modes.
“On the other hand, we want to attract people to the city centre during evenings to support the restaurants and leisure facilities and make sure that parking is available for these visits when congestion has died down from the daytime. A parking strategy for Bristol is proposed for 2019 that will go into more detail on these points.”
Cllr Mhairi Threlfall, cabinet member for transport and connectivity, added: “In recent years we’ve witnessed the biggest transport infrastructure investment in living memory, with around £800m up until 2020 covering schemes like Metrobus, local rail improvements, walking and cycling upgrades and transforming Temple Gate, one of the city’s key gateways. We now need to look to the next 20 years and how we increase transport options so they are accessible and inclusive to everyone.”
The public has been invited to give its views on the strategy and choose the transport priorities for Bristol through a simulator tool, which outlines the pros and cons for a range of projects that could improve how people get around the city.
The consultation and simulator, which are open until the 2 November, can be accessed via www.bristol.gov.uk/transportstrategy
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