Conservative Leader Councillor Mark Weston has condemned the waste of £50k taxpayers’ money spent by the Mayor on a scoping exercise into creating an underground rail system for Bristol.
Earlier this year, a reported leak of the latest version of the West of England Transport Study, contained proposals for three subway lines– one connecting the centre to the Airport, and two others running through the north and eastern parts of the city as part of a hefty £8.9 billion regional infrastructure package.
Critics of this plan have already pointed out the difficult topography of the area – hilly and pitted with mine shafts – and the likely escalating cost of such an ambitious scheme make it extremely doubtful this could ever even get off the drawing board.
Now, it has emerged that on top of the initial outlay spent on this ‘fantastical’ notion, Mayor Rees wants to commit a further £3 million to commission a full feasibility study into the idea which, he hopes, will eventually be funded through the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).
Cllr Weston (Con, Henbury & Brentry) said: “Unfortunately, at a time when we should be looking to deliver realistic and achievable capital projects, this is a case of frittering resources away on absolute pie-in-the-sky thinking.
“I fear the Mayor is being poorly advised or simply having a moment of metro-madness.
“The building costs of a modest network are huge (£2.5 billion) and, as has already been shown in respect of the three Metrobus routes, likely to rise steeply over time.
“As a great supporter of rail, I would love for us to get a subway but, back in the real world, I cannot see the neighbouring authorities agreeing to plough so much of its transport budget into solving Bristol's congestion problems. Even elevated monorail would be a cheaper alternative to this scheme but presents its own problems and considerations.
“Sadly despite what some politicians say - there really is no magic money tree that can be shaken to pay for these grandiose schemes.
“Consequently, I believe Mayor Rees would be better served concentrating on the art of the possible than dreaming up fantastical projects that have about as much chance of seeing the light of day as a space port at Filton.”