Bristol has two principal railway stations. Bristol Temple Meads (near the city centre) has Great Western Railway services which includes high-speed trains to London Paddington and local, regional and CrossCountry trains. Bristol Parkway, north of the city centre, has high-speed Great Western Railway services to Swansea, Cardiff Central and London Paddington and CrossCountry services to Birmingham and the North East. Limited service to London Waterloo via Clapham Junction from Bristol Temple Meads is operated by South Western Railway, and there are scheduled coach links to most major UK cities.
The M4 motorway connects the city on an east-west axis from London to West Wales, and the M5 is a north–south west axis from Birmingham to Exeter. The M49 motorway is a shortcut between the M5 in the south and the M4 Severn Crossing in the west, and the M32 is a spur from the M4 to the city centre. The Portway connects the M5 to the city centre, and was the most expensive road in Britain when opened in 1926.
The runway, terminal and other facilities at Bristol Airport (BRS), Lulsgate, have been upgraded since 2001. Public transport in the city consists primarily of a First West of England bus network. Other providers are Abus, Stagecoach West, Stagecoach South West and Wessex Bus. Bristol's bus service has been criticised as unreliable and expensive, and in 2005 FirstGroup was fined for delays and safety violations.
Private car use is high in the city, leading to traffic congestion costing an estimated £350 million per year. Bristol allows motorcycles to use most of the city's bus lanes and provides secure, free parking for them. Although the city council has included a light rail system in its local transport plan since 2000, it has not yet funded the project; Bristol was offered European Union funding for the system, but the Department for Transport did not provide the required additional funding. The most recent light rail proposal was put forward as part of a consultation produced by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership in November 2016, outlining potential light rail/tram routes from the city centre to Bristol Airport, the eastern and north west fringes of the city, and a route along the A4 road to Bath. In 2017, a further feasibility study will be undertaken into the possibility of an underground light rail system.
A new bus rapid transit system (BRT) called MetroBus, is currently under construction across Bristol, as of 2018, to provide a faster and more reliable service than buses, improve transport infrastructure and reduce congestion. The MetroBus rapid transit scheme will run on both bus lanes and segregated guided busways on three routes; North Fringe to Hengrove (route m1), Ashton Vale to Bristol Temple Meads (route m2), and Emersons Green to The Centre (route m3). MetroBus services are expected to start in 2018.
Several road-construction plans, including re-routing and improving the South Bristol Ring Road, are supported by the city council. Three park and ride sites serve Bristol. The city centre has water transport operated by Bristol Ferry Boats, Bristol Packet Boat Trips and Number Seven Boat Trips, providing leisure and commuter service in the harbour.
Bristol's principal surviving suburban railway is the Severn Beach Line to Avonmouth and Severn Beach. Although Portishead Railway's passenger service was a casualty of the Beeching cuts, freight service to the Royal Portbury Dock was restored from 2000 to 2002 with a Strategic Rail Authority rail-freight grant. The MetroWest scheme, formerly known as The Greater Bristol Metro, proposes to increase the city's rail capacity and is scheduled for completion by 2019. A further scheme to restore a further 3 miles (5 km) of track on the line to Portishead (a dormitory town with one connecting road), is due to open in 2021.A further commuter rail line from Bristol Temple Meads to Henbury is due to open in 2021.
Bristol was designated as England's first "cycling city" in 2008 and is home to Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity. The city has urban cycle routes and links with National Cycle Network routes to Bath, London, Gloucester, Wales and South West England. Cycling trips have increased by 21% from 2001 to 2005.