Sunday, May 31, 2009

Missing The Stop ; Transport Policy Can't Keep To Time

The inability of Swindon Borough Council to have a coherent transport policy is the one clear thing to emerge from the murk of the closure of the Groundwell Park & Ride.

After ten years of operating the Park & Ride from the Groundwell (formerly The Copse) site, the Council decided to close it, due to a lack of sufficient numbers to cover the cost. This failure of policy (how long do you need to make changes to a service to make it cost neutral, ten years would seem to be more than enough time?) has been clouded with councillors now saying that the Groundwell site was in the wrong place all along, the phrase, a poor workman blames his tools, springs to mind.

The Groundwell closure, combined with the news of the extension of the number 11 into Wichelstowe, with council subsidy, (a district with just one family in residence) shows a vast lack of joined-up-thinking in the transport policy.

Firstly, the council was unwilling to subsidise the Park & Ride at Groundwell further. But, if over 10 YEARS, the council had worked to make it revenue neutral and tried, it wouldn't have to.

Secondly, the council is willing to subsidise the route extension of the 11 into East Wichel, before a bulk of people move in, because it believes it's better to have a service up and running before people are there to use it.

Thirdly, the 11 is a route that combines a usual service route with that of serving the Wroughton Park & Ride site. Did the council learn nothing from this route, that they could have combined the Groundwell site with a current route and share costs through cross-subsidising?

Swindon Centric Says ; Swindon, overall, has an excellent bus network, development over the last years has seen more regular evening services, the GPS at bus stops (for Thamesdown only) and a young fleet of modern vehicles, from both Stagecoach and Thamesdown.

However, our inability to operate more grown up 'add-ons', like Park & Ride and night buses, smacks of a town that comes across as amateurish and that doesn't pay attention to detail when it comes to vital core policies.

If other places can do these, why can't we?

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