Concerns over Bristol’s public transport ahead of Clean Air Zone plans
Concerns over the quality of Bristol’s public transport have been raised ahead of plans to charge drivers to enter the city centre.
Bristol City Council plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone in October, charging £9 a day for high-polluting vehicles.
It has been under pressure from the government to improve the city’s air quality.
But Rod Dennis, from the RAC, says drivers do not have enough public transport options.
“We still talk about getting the Portway Park-and-Ride and Brislington Park-and-Ride to be a seven-day-a -week operation,” he said.
“We still talk about getting a park-and-ride put in north of the M32.
“These things are still years and years away, and people, through no fault of their own, are forced to use their car in Bristol even if they don’t particularly want to, because there is simply not a decent alternative.”
If approved by the government, high-polluting cars, vans and taxis will pay £9 a day to enter Bristol city centre. Buses and lorries, will be charged £100 a day.
The council says that people on low incomes or those visiting hospital regularly are likely to be given a one year exemption to allow time for people to upgrade to cleaner vehicles and take advantage of financial support and scrappage schemes.
But Mr Dennis questioned whether a year was long enough for people on low incomes to upgrade to more modern – less polluting – cars.
Richard Martin, from Gas Safe Bristol, has 25 vehicles that would be charged under the scheme, and says the council’s timing is “extremely irresponsible”.
He said: “We’re not even out of lockdown, we still have people out on furlough, we’ve not started paying back the loans that were given out at the start of last year, and this is going to come in in October.
“I just think it is really bad timing.”
He also questioned including the Cumberland Basin in the zone, a move he said would lead to “cutting off the whole of south Bristol.”
“I don’t understand why they have included that,” he said.
“I can only assume they have done that because they are going to catch more people.”
But Chloe Naldrett, from the campaign group Our Air Our City says the zone introduction is the right approach.
“Bristol’s air quality has been a worsening problem for 20 years… so we are really pleased to see this council now take a clear and obvious first step towards protecting people now and in the future,” she said.
“Yes it is an inconvenience in the first instance to change behaviours and I have some real sympathy with people who are feeling concerned about the impact this will have on them, but I also have huge sympathy for the people who are living with chronic lung conditions and asthma.”
Responding to some of the criticism Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: “We have to take the option that delivers clean air in the shortest possible time, and it’s data driven, so when the options are plugged into the computer programme the one that gets us compliance in the shortest possible time is clean air zone D, which does include the charging.”