Three people hold a long banner reading "No Airport Expansion"

Bristol On Board: XR to call for better public transport this weekend

This weekend XR Bristol return to the streets to campaign for better, fairer and greener transport. 

A day of activities begins on Queen Square at 10am on Saturday (July 30) with speeches, an information hub, arts activities and a space for families. A march is planned from midday. 

The protest continues XR’s long standing opposition to Bristol Airport expansion whilst simultaneously calling for affordable bus fares and public ownership of public transport. 

Opposing Bristol Airport expansion

In November, the decision over Bristol Airport expansion will be made here in Bristol at a High Court statutory review brought by campaign group Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN). 

Ben Moss, a member of BAAN who lives in the Chew Valley area, said: ‘Earlier this month we witnessed the tarmac on airport runways melting as the UK sweltered in the highest temperatures ever recorded.  

‘The need to drastically reduce CO2 emissions is so urgent yet we are having to campaign tirelessly to fend off Bristol Airport from expanding. 

two people carry a large cardboard cut-out of an aeroplane with a red cross over it.
A placard from an anti-airport expansion protest in March this year. Image: James Ward.

‘The opposition to airport expansion is clear – from the local community up to the Government’s own Climate Change Committee – yet Bristol Airport is arrogantly ignoring these calls. They are hell-bent on harming the lives of local residents, our children’s futures and our planet as a whole.’

BAAN have been supported in their battle against the expansion by thousands of residents across the south west, and by politicians like West of England mayor Dan Norris. Norris has spoken previously at BAAN-organised events and called for the earlier decision to allow expansion to be overturned. 

Free public transport

Last month XR Youth Bristol launched a campaign for free and fair buses with dramatic banner drops on the cranes outside the M-Shed museum. They call on the West of England Combined Authority to provide free travel for under-25s and to open a public forum to identify improvements to bus routes. 

Read more: Youth activists hijack billboard for free and fair buses campaign

Speaking at the time, XR Youth activist Torin Menzies, 17, said: ‘We are asking for free bus travel for young people not just because of the reduced carbon emissions from increased public transport usage, but also because of the cost of living crisis that we are currently facing. 

‘All young people should have equal access to education, and be able to meet up with friends, without having to worry about the cost of getting there.

‘Although some might say our demands are unrealistic, they are not unprecedented. Greater London already has free bus travel for under-18s, Scotland has introduced a free bus pass for all under-22s, and parts of Greater Manchester are serviced by entirely free buses.’

A billboard shows Dan Norris and the words: "Dan Norris promised to bring "public transport for the 21st Century. What happened? Demand better from WECA"
A billboard put up by XR Youth activists calling on Dan Norris to improve public transport. Image: Silverbirch.

Public ownership of public transport

XR Bristol said that privatised public transport does not deliver value for money, nor does it serve the needs of many people.  With public ownership, the city could transition more easily to zero emission fleets, accessible to all, with the planet and communities placed ahead of profit. 

Luke Lanyon-Hogg, a spokesperson for XR Bristol, said: ‘As a non-driver, public transport is very important to me and the state of Bristol buses makes me angry. Over the past 5 years I’ve seen the price of a day ticket go up by two pounds, while the number of services is going down.

‘I have no objection to my taxes subsidising public transport, but I want to see all that money go to improving services, not into the pockets of shareholders. Private ownership of any public service is inefficient because money is lost paying shareholders. 

‘Public transport should be for people not for profit. The environmental and health benefits are clear, more people taking buses means less vehicles on the road which means less emissions. We have just had a red weather warning in this country and time has run out so we must prioritise people and planet before profit.’

Earlier this month, the boss of First Bus, Doug Claringbold, warned services will be cut this autumn due to funding losses even as he apologised for ‘unacceptable’ numbers of bus cancellations.

He said the cancellations were largely due to a shortage of trained bus drivers, many of whom having been lured away by the doubling of wages in the HGV sector while others had returned to Europe.

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