Joint Progress Report 2007

Good progress has been made in the first year of the Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP) for the West of England area.

This groundbreaking plan was submitted to the Department for Transport in April 2006 on behalf of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils, working together to improve the transport network over the next 5 years.

The plan was assessed as `Good' by the DfT, with an extra 3% reward funding provided above expected levels, bringing the total awarded to the four councils for spending on local transport schemes to £23.6 million in the current financial year.

The plan includes an ambitious range of targets to improve the quality of the transport network, including better bus services, road safety improvements, increases in cycling and improved traffic flow. In the first year of the plan, progress has included:

  • An increase in bus patronage of 2% in the sub-region compared with 2003 levels, bucking the previous downward trend and helped by bus fleet renewals in Bath and the signing of improvement partnerships with First. Council surveys show that satisfaction with bus services has also been demonstrated to have markedly improved.
  • A 20% reduction in `Killed and Seriously Injured' casualties compared to 2003, delivered through the new West of England Road Safety Partnership, a joint initiative involving the four councils, emergency services, NHS and the Highways Agency.
  • Cycling has increased by 24% compared with 2003, which is well above the national trend and shows that a strong cycling culture is being established in the area, particularly for commuting in Bristol and the `North Fringe'.
  • Traffic growth is slowing with a 1% increase across the sub-region in total `vehicle kilometres' since 2005, demonstrating that improved bus, cycle and walking networks are reducing reliance on car use for short journeys.

Councillor Mark Bradshaw, Bristol City Council's Executive Member for Access and Environment, said: “I welcome this positive news in the first year of the joint plan. This progress is really encouraging, showing how by working together the four councils can better direct resources to improve transport quickly, improve air quality and start to show immediate results.

“The imminent completion of the A420 Showcase bus route, and forthcoming full endorsement of the Greater Bristol Bus Network bid, currently awaiting final sign-off from the Government, will build on this success and provide a bus network which can offer a real alternative to car travel in the city, reduce congestion and improve journey times for everyone.”

Councillor Charles Gerrish, Bath and North East Somerset's Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: “This is really goods news, and particularly shows the improvements to bus services in Bath as a result of First investing in new vehicles. The ambitious redevelopments at Southgate and Western Riverside will also deliver key public transport improvements, supported by the Greater Bristol Bus Network bid to improve bus routes between Bath, Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Bristol.

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset's Executive Member for Strategic Planning, Highways and Economic Development, said: “I welcome the clear progress that is already apparent, demonstrating the benefits of the four councils working together. We need to, however, remember this is just the start, there is a lot more to do if we are to make a real difference to the journeys of all people in the sub-region.”

Councillor Brian Allinson, South Gloucestershire's Executive Member for Planning, Transportation and Strategic Environment, said: “I am delighted with the initial progress made with the plan, and look forward to these improvements being sustained to enhance the quality of life for all people living and working in the area. Improving the transport network is vital to maintaining the area's economic viability and this is a major step forward.”

The Joint Progress Report is available to download here. It outlines performance over a range of 19 separate targets covering bus and rail services, road safety, highway maintenance, traffic growth and air quality, and together with the Joint Local Transport Plan forms a reporting structure on progress to the Department for Transport. An update on progress with the sub-region's `major schemes', including the Greater Bristol Bus Network, Bath Package and Bus Rapid Transit is also included, and more detailed consultation on these proposals is scheduled for later in the year.

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