City transport policy is back to front, says traffic expert

Peter Headicar

Peter Headicar

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

A TRANSPORT planning expert from Oxford Brookes University has said Oxfordshire County Council is addressing Headington transport issues in a “back-to-front” manner.

Peter Headicar, a reader in transport planning in the Department of Planning at Oxford Brookes University, said Oxfordshire County Council needed to look at a strategy for the city as a whole before tackling more local issues.

The council says it is making strides towards better transport in Headington, with a new £1.5m bus scheme to take students and workers in and out of the hospitals and universities unveiled.

The council hopes these services – especially for workers from Thornhill and Water Eaton park and ride sites – will cut road congestion and parking problems.

But Mr Headicar is unconvinced. He believes that after looking at a citywide plan, it should have a strategy for the Eastern Arc before finally looking at individual proposals in Headington.

He said: “Things are happening in a back-to-front manner at the moment.”

“I welcome that they are putting in improved services but it is only one piece of the jigsaw.

“The revised park and ride services only cater for car drivers arriving from the east, north and west via Water Eaton.

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“At some stage the issue of access from the south also needs to be addressed and there is also the question of catering for movements within the city.”

Mr Headicar said some details of the Park and Ride Services were not good news.

He said: “The frequency from Water Eaton to the JR Hospital is being reduced from 15 minutes to 20 in morning peak time and during the day and from 20 minutes to 25 in the afternoon peak.

“This, tied to the fact that the running times of park and ride services remain generally slow, does not add up to a very attractive package for motorists.”

Concerns have also been raised at the new 800 bus service which will go down Osler Road.

County councillor for Headington and Quarry Roz Smith said: “The Osler Road was not designed to take heavy vehicles on a regular basis and the road surface and footway kerbs are crumbling due to vehicles having to drive on the footway to pass each other. I am very disappointed and angry that no local consultation was undertaken before these new services were agreed.”

The new Stagecoach bus services are due to begin on Monday, September 23.

Oxfordshire county council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “The new bus services are clearly not intended to be the solution to all transport issues in the area.

“But we are confident that they will have a very positive impact and are surely welcome news.

In response to Mr Headicar, he said: “A bid for a much wider area would have had much less chance of success.

“The alternative of not bidding would mean that Oxford would miss out.”

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