The city of Bristol faces many transport challenges: high levels of congestion in a city can lead to poor air quality, reduced safety for cyclists and pedestrians and an unreliable public transport system. With the number of homes and jobs in Bristol set to rise in the next 20 years, it is vital that the transport system fully supports the city’s growth.

Bristol City Council wanted to gather the public’s views on transport; to learn about the issues citizens faced with getting around the city and hear their opinions on proposed solutions. Options included the introduction of a tram system, an underground system and improvements to train routes in the city, amongst others.

They decided to use Priority Simulator, a digital tool which gives people the chance to make trade offs between competing priorities to achieve a balanced set of options.

Priority Simulator allowed people to learn through the process of participation, considering transport improvements for Bristol alongside one another and looking at funding options to enable improvements to be made.

Citizens aren’t always given the chance to be involved in complex policy decisions but using Simulator let them have a say and gain a real insight into what councils face when deciding on important issues such as transport strategies.

The consultation was well-promoted by the council and covered by local press in the city. The ability to share responses via social media gave people the chance to see how other citizens would prioritise transport too, making the process more interactive and providing transparency.

All of the responses to the simulator will inform the final Bristol Transport Strategy which will be adopted in full by the council in 2019.