27 February 2006

Let the buses take the strain

The Evening Herald tonight leads on the front page with the headline Let the buses take the strain. That sounds like a good idea!
From This is Plymouth
A ring of park-and-ride sites could spring up around the city as part of multi-million-pound plans to get Plymouth on the move. Transport chiefs want to look for park-and- ride sites at Saltash and Deep Lane to help tackle traffic congestion in the city.Other proposals include giving buses priority in Mutley, Laira Bridge and Embankment Road, as well as improving Bretonside bus station.A traffic ‘tsar’ could work with other councils and agencies to help reduce problems in the city’s congestion hotspots.And the city council could press ahead with plans for a new bus network in the east of the city, along with a designated ‘bus corridor’ to link the Saltash park-and-ride site with the city centre.The far-reaching proposals, outlined in the council’s second Local Transport Plan (LTP2), were due to be presented to city business leaders today.More than £50million could be spent over the next five years to make the plan a reality.That figure would include about £12.5million from the private sector to improve links to Langage and Plymstock, as well as new housing developments at Sherford and Plymstock Quarry.Sue Dann, Cabinet member for transport and human resources, said: “We have to plan for the future and the growth that we want this city to enjoy. That cannot happen without a modern transport system that people have faith in to get to work, to college, hospitals and to enjoy themselves.”The LTP2, which is to be submitted to the Government at the end of March, sets out a host of ideas designed to get more people using public transport.They include working with Devon and Cornwall county councils to secure park-and-ride sites near the A38 at Deep Lane and Saltash. They would be bigger than the new scheme at the George Junction, due to open shortly, and would complement existing services at Coypool and Milehouse.Other key ideas include:Bus priority measures in Mutley, Mannamead Road, Laira Bridge and Embankment Road.Better buses linking the city centre with Millbay, Stonehouse and Devonport.Text messages to tell customers if buses are on time. Cutting commuter parking spaces, with more for shoppers.Exploring ‘smart cards’ to pay for public transport.Improving Bretonside bus station.A traffic ‘tsar’ to team up with neighbouring councils and the Highways Agency to look at congestion problems.Cllr Dann said: “No one wants to be stuck in traffic and we all blame everyone else for delays, but everyone in Plymouth has to play their part.“This plan contains concrete changes travellers will be able to use – from the park-and-ride sites, new roads and bus lanes to technology that will tell us when the bus is coming.”The final plan is to be decided at a full council meeting on March 6, before being shown to the Department for Transport (DfT) on March 31, and the council expects to receive formal feedback in December. If the DfT approves the proposals, the council will get more money to put them into practice.Officers will be hoping the final plan is better received than the draft, submitted to the Government last July; in a stinging report revealed in the Herald last month, assessors said it was ‘disjointed’, ‘contradicts itself’ and was among the UK’s worst.City transport manager Chris Sane said the council had known it had more work to do when the draft was submitted.He said: “We hadn’t finished the public consultation exercise and, because we were still gathering information, we were not able to fully develop the proposals. They’re much clearer in the final plan, which is a lot closer to solving the issues and supporting future growth, both in terms of population growth and the economic growth of the city.”
Lets hope it gets a better reception than the last version which was roundly condemned by the DfT.
I will be having a closer look at the plan once I can actually download the pdf files from the councils own web pages

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