Four people stand in front of a bus. Two hold a banner that reads "Extinction Rebellion Youth"

Youth activists block airport bus in protest for fairer public transport

Youth environmental activists blocked an Airport Flyer bus in protest against the proposed expansion of Bristol Airport and recent cuts of public transport in the city.

Eight activists from XR Youth Bristol blocked the bus outside Temple Meads station by surrounding it with banners, one of which read “Fair Travel not Air Travel”. Others hung banners out of the windows on the upper tier of the bus. 

The Airport Flyer, operated by FirstBus, had arrived from the airport and was en route to the city centre, which the activists say avoided putting passengers at risk of missing flights. Activists remained for two hours before leaving voluntarily. Police were present at the scene. 

Read more: XR Youth protest inside Bristol Airport terminal building

XR Youth spokesperson Torin Menzies, 17, said: ‘We need to revolutionise our public transport, including vastly improving the state of the West of England’s frankly awful bus network. 

‘Sadly, FirstBus are more interested in serving the potentially expanding Bristol Airport instead of our local communities, cutting bus routes across the region whilst increasing the Airport Flyer service.

‘Bristol Airport expansion will increase flights and emissions at a time of climate emergency, as well as worsening air quality, and FirstBus are actively supporting these plans. What we need is fair travel, not air travel.’

The action (on November 5) comes just days before airport campaigners Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) appear in the High Court to challenge the outcome of last year’s planning inquiry.

Planning inspectors granted the airport permission to continue with expansion plans that will result in two million extra passengers, thousands of flights and an estimated one million tonnes of CO2 being emitted each year

An Airport Flyer bus is seen behind a long pink banner held by four people that reads "Fair travel not air travel."
Activists block the bus from leaving Temple Meads on its return journey to Bristol bus station. Image: Silverbirch.
Two peopel holding a banner stand in front of double-decker bus that says "Airport Flyer" on the side. There are two long banners hanging from windows on the upper tier of the bus.
Activists blocked the bus from leaving whilst festooning it with banners. Image: Silverbirch.

XR Youth said the bus blockade forms part of their Free Buses, Fair Buses campaign that was launched in June. That campaign has two demands aimed at the West of England Combined Authority. Free bus travel within the West of England (including North Somerset) for students, apprentices and anyone under age 25, and a consultation and public forum to be run to identify improvements to bus routes that would best serve communities.

The group quote recent cuts to local bus routes as motivation for their action. FirstBus have announced plans to cut up to 18 bus routes across the West of England, including the number 5 through St Pauls, Eastville, and Stapleton, and the X2 to Yatton, North Somerset. Meanwhile the Airport Flyer will increase in frequency from every 20 to every 12 minutes.

XR Youth has previously protested inside Bristol Airport, staging a die-in there in March in opposition to the proposed expansion and joining protests in the summer.

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