MetroBus is a major infrastructure project that has brought permanent change to some areas of the Bristol Urban Area. Its objectives as a transport project coincide very closely with the themes of Urban ID. Metrobus is intended to reduce carbon emissions, by attracting trips that would otherwise be made by car, thereby contributing to a lower carbon city. It should enhance both accessibility and social inclusion, by improving access to job opportunities, education, leisure, health and retail facilities, and providing a fully accessible system of vehicles, stops, interchanges and information. Taking these objectives together, it should improve quality of life, or wellbeing.
The case-study was selected for three reasons.
- First, although a major planning and consultation exercise was undertaken with a view to minimising negative impacts and maximising benefits, the scheme has attracted high profile criticism, particularly in respect of the loss of green space. We want to understand if a more co-produced MetroBus could have enhanced the sustainability of Bristol in a more consensus way, and thereby learn lessons for major infrastructures in the future.
- Second, we are interested to know how far Bristolians have conceptualised the practical opportunities that MetroBus will offer, at a point prior to the network opening. This will help us appreciate current attitudes towards MetroBus and also provide a ‘benchmark’ for follow up in the future, after it opens.
- Third, by examining the detail of MetroBus design, in particular relating to its integration with other transport options, we will seek opportunities to maximise the investment in MetroBus.
The case-study team will research the sustainability contribution of MetroBus through the following approaches:
- Narrative interviews to understand different perspectives on the sustainable development and future of MetroBus.
- A survey of 1,000 current users of bus routes which run close to the future MetroBus routes will inform us about current perceptions of MetroBus and the way the delivery of existing bus services effects accessibility and inclusion and also health and wellbeing on the move.
- Workshops will be undertaken with three groups of potential users: residents of an existing peripheral housing estate that risk social exclusion; employees at a peripheral employment site, focusing on commuting choices; residents of a recently completed new housing estate, as the choices of new residents will be critical for the sustainable expansion of Bristol.
- Citizen audits of the emerging stop infrastructure and environs, to understand whether the planning and design process has effectively included the needs of all future potential users arriving on foot, by cycle, or by public or private motor vehicle.
This case study looks at the effects of major interventions in urban areas, it will give us evidence about how major change projects like this can be most effective in bringing about better cities for us all.