Bristol International Balloon Fiesta has announced there will be no shuttle bus service serving this year’s event - and people are taking to social media to voice their frustrations.
Due to a national shortage of bus drivers, the Fiesta’s popular shuttle bus service is not available in 2022, which is a problem that is affecting all the operators in Bristol and the West of England.
But the people it is affecting the most for the Bristol Balloon Fiesta are, of course, those who are planning to attend.
Despite the Fiesta team recommending other transport routes to the event, including walking along Festival Way or cycling, clearly many people feel it’s not enough.
Festival Way leads directly into the city centre where buses and trains can be easily accessed, but it’s a good 40-minute walk from Bristol City Centre to Ashton Court Estate where the event is held.
Many people who are travelling from out of town feel that this makes the journey more complicated than it should be.
One Facebook user commented: “That’s a shame, when you don’t live local, even getting the bus to town and walking from there is far.”
With so many people looking to utilise local services, some people are concerned about the chaos this may cause and that there won’t be anywhere near enough services to cope with the demand.
There is also a lot of concern voiced for the fact that many local services won’t get people to the event on time for the early morning start.
One social media user noted: “I can just imagine the stampede of people trying to get the local buses. Just going to be chaos.
”Doubt we’ll come along now, after a long day at the festival can’t see the kids wanting to walk back to town to get a bus.”
For some people, the frustration comes from the lack of information which has led to people calling out the organisers to change the way they are informing people on the website.
One social media user stated: ”This is really disappointing news. The explanation of the walking route is very poor on the website. But you appear to really care about people finding parking easy.
“The whole ‘getting here’ section should be rejigged with maps and explanations of how to walk / cycle / bus there listed first, and the car stuff tucked in lower down.”
Some people on Facebook are attempting to boost morale, though, but have pointed out that it’s limited to those who are physically able to undertake the hefty walking.
One user says: “Takes 45 minutes to walk from the centre to Ashton Court and it’s a lovely walk if you go via the harbourside! If not, any of the buses to Portishead from the centre will get you close.”
Fiesta Operations Director, Ben Hardy, said: “We have worked hard over the last few months to look for alternatives to the Fiesta’s shuttle bus service but all viable options have been exhausted.
“Having tried to find a workable solution in partnership with all the main operators in the area, the lack of bus drivers means that we are unable to provide this travel option.
“We realise this will be difficult news for many who rely on the service, and we are therefore extending the current lower tier pricing for Fiesta parking until the 31st July to enable those who would like to use a car instead to do so at the cheaper rate.
“The roads around the fiesta site are strictly no parking to reduce the impact on local residents and to allow emergency vehicle access around the local area and to the event, so we urge visitors to book car parking in advance.”
Parking for the Fiesta can only be purchased in advance, and prices start at £16 plus booking fee for the Red Car Park and £22.50 plus booking fee for the Blue Car Park.
Prices vary slightly per day and time and are available until the end of July, when the price will rise to the final tier pricing. Parking tickets are available to purchase from the Fiesta website.
Despite organisers doing all they can to help and facilitate more solutions after the bus service was cancelled, the price of parking is also something people are frustrated with.
One Facebook user states: ”£17.60 - £24.75 to park a car is extortionate.” While another notes: “How convenient and now the parking is around £25 for the day!”
For the first time, however, the organisers have arranged, for pedestrian safety and to help with traffic flow, that the A370 will be closed in both directions from Winterstoke Road to the South Bristol Link Road on Thursday and Saturday night after the nightglow finishes at 10pm until midnight.