Lib Dems call for bus/rail interchange

Lib Dems call for bus/rail interchange as part of new Market Street development at Newbury Station

Getting a good transport system up and running is a strange operation where you have to put time and effort into putting the cart firmly before the horse. No one is going to promise – or even be tempted – to use a system until they can see it works. And it can.

My experiences with bus/rail interchange (and the rest) have been excellent over four decades and three different countries:

  • I visited Hamburg in 1976. To get to my penfriend’s secondary school we traveled by train, bus and boat. All beautifully coordinated, all using the same daily Fahrscheine/travelcard.
  • In 1982 I lived in Toronto. The discovery that buses might stop right outside of metro stations was a revelation. There really was no need for a car – the public transport system simply worked.
  • Moving to London, I travelled regularly by public transport from Twickenham to Shepherd’s Bush via Hammersmith tube station. I changed from tube to bus via a stop at the end of the Shepherd’s Bush Road, only a few mins walk from the tube station, but when you are gunning for work, dressed somewhat professionally, walking down the road and round the corner in the wind and the rain really took the shine off the idea of travelling in by public transport everyday.
  • Some years later, 2008, TfL opened the new bus station at Hammersmith, inside the underground complex. Access from the tube station took about 2 mins. What I saw was a massive increase in the number of people using the no 72. Other bus services are well used also – every time I see the crowds I think about all the cars that are not on the road.

Now, it’s 2015 and West Berkshire is looking to develop Newbury Bus Station, a new shopping centre, town centre accommodation, and it’s all near the railway station. What a wonderful opportunity!

Many railway stations around the UK have bus/rail interchanges. They are not remarkable or expensive. They do, however, require planning, thought and motivation.

Sadly, current indicative plans for the Market Street development in central Newbury show a)that the bus station in Market Street is to be moved further from the railway station (can you believe it!), b) that the Market Street development contains no provision for transferring from local bus services to the trains (extraordinary!). c) The possibility of rearranging the use of the council owned access road and land between the Council Offices and the station to enable a bus stop right outside the station entrance is not even being considered. This latter is only thing that will encourage commuters and other travellers to actually use bus services instead of their cars.

Once again, West Berks Council is ignoring the experience of others and ploughing their own intransigent, irrelevant furrow.

You can’t help wondering whether any of the current elected front bench has ever depended on public transport and whether they are actually concerned much about the people who do.

NOTES:

1/Indicative plans for the Market Street development can be found on West Berkshire Council’s website herehttp://info.westberks.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=38413&p=0  page 32

2/ A comment on the Newbury Forum notes: “With the present road layout this [a bus/rail interchange] would be simply daft.” The whole point is that this is an opportunity to exercise vision and change the road lay out. It would really not be that hard.

3/ The number of people using Newbury railway station each year is:-
2009/10    1.436 million
2010/11     1.494 million
2011/12     1.558 million
2012/13     1.628 million
2013/14     1.664 million

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