Bristol sustainable ferry commute idea becomes reality

22nd March 2017
bristol commuter ferry

Bristol Ferries is launching a new early morning service from the beginning of April, allowing commuters to choose the river as their preferred mode of transport and easing congestion through the city centre at peak hours, an idea that we put forward in our ’52 Big Ideas for Bristol’ manifesto.

From Monday 3 April, passengers will be able to catch a ferry from Bristol Temple Meads station at one end of the Floating Harbour at 07.15, 07,55 and 08:35 for a 20 minute journey into the city centre, and from the other end of Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Commuters will be able to make the return trip up until 18:00.

The new service makes Bristol one of the few UK cities outside London to have dedicated river transport for commuters.

Bristol Ferry Map

Click to enlarge. Map designed by Karl Whiteley.

Head of Sustainability for Stride Treglown, Rob Delius, explains:

“As part of our Green Week activity in 2015, we held a ‘commuter race’ to see which of eight modes of transport got staff from Bristol Temple Meads station to our offices in Clifton. On that occasion the electric bike won but it started us thinking about why the ferry didn’t start running until 10am and how much benefit would be gained from a commuter service.

“We included the idea in our publication which proposes one idea per week for a whole year to make Bristol greener and it was picked up by colleagues at Low Carbon South West who made the introduction to Bristol Ferries. We’re absolutely delighted that this has now become a reality.”

The idea of using ferries during peak hours was originally tried back in the 1990s, but was halted due to transport funding cuts. The development of the Harbourside and increased numbers of people living and working close to the river has prompted Bristol Ferries to re-introduce the service and Philippa Bungard, Manager, is optimistic for the future:

“We are really hopeful that, with all the new businesses and homes around the harbour, coupled with the city’s terrible congestion, the time is right for the people of Bristol to embrace water transport. ”

The commuter service is initially being trialled for two months to gauge the level of demand, but Low Carbon South West, which promotes the environmental sector in the region, sees it as a potentially important contributor to lowering pollution in the city.

Bristol Ferries was recently awarded £257,000 from Power to Change to develop a new electric/hybrid ferry boat, which will further contribute to cleaner air and water in the city. The new boat, the sixth in the fleet, will be ready for service in 2018.

A launch event is being held on Tuesday 28th March, at 7.50am from Bristol Temple Meads station, please see Bristol Ferry Commuter Service Eventbrite page for more details and tickets.

Our ’52 Big Ideas for Bristol’ publication is available for free download.