21 Jul 2009

Stroud Interchange hopes die

Thursday night last week saw the £70,000 set aside for the bus/rail interchange in Stroud by the District Council used to help pay for housing. This is a shame indeed.

Photos; Bus station - well a main road with some bays each side and lots of barriers, lights and more - see Better Streets for Stroud report that I wrote in 2005

Last month Stroud town councillors had lobbied Ebley Mill to make a final decision this summer over plans to build a bus-rail interchange in Stroud. Members had urged Stroud District Council to either go for it or scrap the project - which was first proposed about 12 years ago - and instead invest in the current facilities in Merrywalks. It was a disappointment then to see the project scrapped and no money put aside for improved facilities - the Cabinet member's response was that improvements were the County's role - pah! We need all to work together and this money was set aside for the interchange - those improvements are needed more than ever...indeed I made an amendment to a Scrutiny document last October that if money wasn't going on this site then it should be for other transport improvements - in particular cycling. That was clearly ignored.

Anyhow the recent town council survey found better bus facilities were the sixth highest priority for residents - and indeed I am not surprised - whenever I catch a bus from there it seems to be windy, cold and no where safe for children to wait with the busy road - plus no coffee! Indeed the interchange has been used as an excuse not to do anything with the current facilities.

12 years we have been waiting - yet no signs of movement - when I was first elected it was an issue I raised when the Chief Executive visited the ward - anyhow for some background - it was basically a partnership of local authorities, led by the district council, that drew up plans for an interchange behind the station when the cinema was built on the site of the old bus station in Merrywalks. The aims of the project were to bring bus facilities closer to the town centre and improve the link between road and rail. A temporary facility was built in Merrywalks with work scheduled to go ahead within two years.

Greens have raised it several times each year since then in various committees and Full Council - we were always told things were progressing - it is deeply disappointing that the interchange has not featured more prominently in the administrations list of priorities - we are told it is the rail and bus companies that don't want the improvements - if so then I think we should be hearing more about that - why?

It is now time to engage with all the stakeholders, including passengers and bus companies to ensure improvements can come swiftly. Let us hope that Merrywalks can at least be improved with extra bus shelters, more regular cleaning, proper signposting for the toilets and better access to the town centre.


Elinor said...

Coffee and better shelter sounds great (don't forget star anise isn't far) - a bus station not also used as a main road would also be nice!

However, while this may be a positive step there's not much point having decent facilities if more bus services are to be cut - as we saw with the 46 and others over a year ago. It seems things were being done the wrong way round - cut services because of low use and then look at how to improve the experience and increase use!!?! Maybe we can bring some of those service back someday...

Anonymous said...

Is it true Stroud bus user figures are down? If so are these related to the poor facilities?