Plans for £6m+ a year investment into buses at no cost to the Bristol taxpayer

19 February 2019

Green councillors in Bristol and the Green Party Mayoral Candidate for 2020 have put forward an amendment to Bristol City Council’s budget to be discussed at the Council Budget meeting on Tuesday 26th. The amendment proposes a £6.5m annual investment in buses, making them more affordable, improving reliability, speed and numbers of routes, to be funded through a congestion charge on cars from outside the city.

Green Mayoral candidate for 2020 Sandy Hore-Ruthven welcomed the amendment saying:

“As I speak to people across Bristol it is clear that travel in the city is the biggest issue they face. More reliable, cheaper and quicker buses are key to solving the twin problems of congestion and toxic air pollution. This amendment will provide that investment without costing Bristol taxpayers a penny and improvements could take effect very soon.”

He continued: “Buses allow equality for all road users, regardless of their background, and improve travel for everyone in the City. Bristol suffers from some of the worst congestion in the country and we must be at the forefront of finding solutions that are effective now, not in 30 years’ time. Bristolians pay for services in our city through council tax and business rates. A congestion charge, equivalent to a bus fare, for drivers coming into the city from outside our boundaries, would be a contribution to helping make our roads clearer and our air cleaner.”

The Bristol draft Transport strategy put forward by the Mayor’s office identified traffic congestion as the number one transport challenge in Bristol. At peak times buses travel through the city centre at an average speed of 6mph. The budget amendment proposes a congestion charge in the city centre of Bristol for drivers coming from outside the city boundary. The Atkins 2013 Road Pricing Study, commissioned by Bristol City Council, indicated that £11m of capital investment would secure £13-14m of annual net income to the City if every driver paid. Currently, 60% of daily car commuters come from outside the city boundary. The financial modelling has been updated accordingly and the £6m of potential revenue touted by the Green amendment is considered a conservative estimate.

Cllr Jerome Thomas, who is proposing the amendment, said:

“This proposal will significantly reduce congestion in Bristol, making it easier for everyone to move around the city whether by bus or other forms of transport. The proposal will also provide significant additional funding for better, more reliable, more affordable buses.”

Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party who is today visiting Bristol [1] said:

“It is great to see the leadership that Bristol Greens are taking, whether on air quality, carbon neutrality and now, on improved public transport. We hope that all Bristol’s councillors will support this bold proposal next week.”

The proposed amendment is set out below and forms part of a number of amendments the Green councillors will be putting forward in the budget meeting on Tuesday 26th February.

The Bristol draft transport strategy can be found here.

Text of the full amendment is set out below:

Proposed transport budget amendment 19_20 v6 Bristol City Council budget process

Jerome Thomas – Green Group of councillors

Better buses for Bristol (funded by congestion charging)

Quick, clean and cheap buses must form the backbone of the solution to Bristol’s traffic and pollution problems.  The public indicate again and again that a good bus network would transform how people travel in the city with all the attendant benefits to health, the economy and our environment.  It is the transport system that encourages equality for all from the poorest to the wealthiest in Bristol.  This budget amendment will invest £6m a year at no cost to the taxpayer in our buses.  This is a bold and vital step towards solving our transport problems and creating a city for the future.

The Bristol Draft Transport Strategy identifies traffic congestion as the number one transport challenge facing the city. At peak times buses travel through the city centre at an average speed of 6 mph. To allow lower bus fares and more frequent reliable bus services Bristol’s Green councillors propose that congestion charging is introduced in the city centre for out of town drivers (in consultation we would however consult both on whether the congestion charge should apply to all drivers or out of town drivers only and also establish whether the charging would be at peak times only or during the whole day). Our approach is also consistent with the goals of the Joint Local Transport Plan 3 currently in place for the West of England. Consultation will be needed with local businesses to understand and address concerns that they may have, but the benefits to the local economy and residents of tackling traffic congestion over the next five years will far outweigh the economic and social costs involved. Introduction of this proposed congestion charge will also significantly contribute to the reduction in Bristol’s carbon footprint as people move to less carbon intensive forms of transport including public transport, cycling and walking.

The 2013 Road Pricing Study commissioned by the Council from Atkins indicates in the central case scenario that £11m of capital investment in road pricing in central Bristol would secure £13-£14m per year of net revenue. Because the proposed congestion charge would only apply to out of town drivers who make up 60% of the daily commuters according to the Bristol draft Transport Strategy, we have changed the financial modelling appropriately.  The impact of this proposal will be to reduce traffic congestion, to improve air quality, to provide funding for transport improvements and to reduce the funding burden on Bristol’s Council tax payers. The feedback to the Bristol City Council budget consultation published in January 2019 identified transport charging as the number 1 preferred source of additional funding for Bristol City Council with almost twice as many mentions as any other possible source of funding.

  Scheme implementation costs (£m) Annual operating costs Annual scheme revenues Operating costs as % of revenue Annual net revenue
Atkins central case 2013 11 11.5 25 45% 13.5
Scenario A 11 8.25 15 (60% because relates to out of town traffic). 55% 6.75
Scenario B (our chosen modelling scenario) 6 (Reduced because of shared costs with CAZ infrastructure) 8.25 15 (60% because relates to out of town traffic). 55% 6.75
Scenario C 6 (Reduced because of shared costs with CAZ infrastructure) 6.75 15 (60% because relates to out of town traffic). 45% 8.25


Amendment Proposals to Capital Programme 2019/20 to 2023-24 from Green Group
(As per implementation timings from Atkins Bristol road pricing study p32)
Political Group/ Member Lead: Jerome Thomas
              Officer Assessment
Directorate/ Service Description of Budget Amendment, Rationale and Implications 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24 Service Implication Equalities Impact Assessment
 Growth / Regen Congestion charging for better buses resulting in £6.75m per year of transport improvements for the city.  £500k (scheme staffing, design and consultation)  £750k (scheme staffing, camera procurement, streetworks signs and lines)  £4750k(Staffing, Camera purchase, streetworks signs and lines).  Scheme launch 1 Jan 2022.
Funding released from BCC capital contingency budget. -£500k -£750k £4250k
 Capital repayment  -£1500k  -£1500k  -£1500k
Reduce Prudential Borrowing as per revenue budget proposal
Total (must be zero)  £0  £0  £0  -£1500k  -£1500k

Any new proposed additions to the capital programme must be offset by compensatory reduction of schemes funded internally (prudential borrowing, capital receipts, revenue contributions or CIL) so that overall borrowing does not exceed budget assumptions, without the need to identify further revenue savingsAny proposed additions to the General Fund programme cannot be offset by reductions to the HRA, or other ring-fenced funded schemes (e.g. external grant) or vice versa

Any capital budget changes for the purposes of revenue budget amendments should be incorporated in this template to avoid duplication and total of scheme reductions incorporated in appropriate row above

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