Despite being well placed to serve most of the South West of England and South Wales, poor surface transport links from some parts of the region can make Bristol Airport difficult to get to. We are the largest airport without either a direct rail link, motorway or dual carriageway access.
This is one reason why, every year, millions of journeys are made by passengers from the South West of England and South Wales using London airports, despite costing on average £67 extra in time and travel25.
As we expand our destinations and passenger numbers increase, better connections to improved road and rail networks would streamline journeys for our visitors, keep us competitive and help improve accessibility, not just for the airport but for local communities as well. Improving access for cyclists will also be important, reflecting Bristol’s status as a Cycling City.
Progress so far
We continue to encourage a growing range of bus and coach services to towns and cities across the region. Public transport connections now operate between the airport and Bristol, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton, Cardiff and Newport.
Beyond the airport boundary, we contributed over £4 million towards the new South Bristol Link, which opened in January 2017 and has improved road access from the north, east and west. We are currently joint-funding a study with North Somerset Council and other stakeholders, which considers what road and public transport improvements could be brought forward to address current and future transport issues between Bristol, the airport, the M5 and Weston-super-Mare. We are also keen to explore whether Bristol Airport could be directly connected to the national rail network.
Ambitions for the future
Capacity constraints at major London airports mean regional airports like Bristol have a great opportunity to provide a more convenient alternative for local passengers.
Our key role in the region’s economy has been highlighted in the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Strategy and the North Somerset Core Strategy. We now need to set out sustainable plans for the airport’s future which will strengthen the region’s case for new transport infrastructure.
Our Draft Master Plan will include our plans to enhance surface access to Bristol Airport and include stretching targets for us to encourage more public transport use and other sustainable travel.
25 York Aviation: Analysis of Bristol Airport leakage to the London airports (December 2016).