By Eva Radhika Gurnani, News Editor
At 2pm yesterday, a group of environmental activists blocked an Airport Flyer leaving for the City Centre from Temple Meads station.
While some blocked the bus’s path by standing around it as it attempted to leave the station, others hung banners out of its windows. The bus was on its way back from the airport to the City Centre, meaning there was no chance of passengers missing flights.
The protest took place just as the High Court is set to hear arguments on the expansion of Bristol Airport next week. At the appeal, young people hope to make clear their objection to the expansion, which will release over a million tons of carbon dioxide (and equivalent greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere each year.
This action is just part of an ongoing campaign by XR Youth Bristol, who previously held a ‘die-in’ protest inside the airport terminal in March.
It is also part of XRYB's Free Buses, Fair Buses campaign that was launched in June, supporting the second demand of 'Fair Buses'.
FirstBus plan to get rid of 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. While these routes are intended to be cut, the frequency of Airport Flyer buses in Bristol will increase from every 20 to every 12 minutes.
Through the Free Buses, Fair Buses campaign, XRYB demand free bus travel within the West of England (including North Somerset) for all those under the age of 25, all students, and all apprentices. In addition, they also call for regional and local authorities to set up a public forum, through which bus routes can be improved to best serve local communities.
Torin Menzies, 17, an XR Youth Spokesperson expressed his frustration at the situation:
“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."