Thursday, 11 March 2010

Buses to leave St. Johns Square

Soon to be history - two Line 3 Solos pass on Abingdon Street

Sadly it seems that public transport is to be banished from Church Street outside the Winter Gardens after over a century. The opening of the Marton tram route brought mainstream public transport in front of the iconic structure and bus routes later followed - outlasting the closure of the tramway in 1962.

Major regeneration of the square took several months during 2009 with a temporary three month diversion to bus services drastically overrunning to last around eight months. As a result Lines 3, 4 and 15 were curtailed to ensure reliability but with a detrimental effect on patronage. The square reopened, modelled on a novel shared space system which allows buses, taxis and pedestrians to mingle freely. Buses resumed their key role in delivering passengers close to town centre shops and the retail trade was happy once more.

Sadly, despite a good safety record, the share space scheme has failed to catch on and the desire to have the square traffic free has one the day - despite the obvious impacts to accessibility for public transport users. The council has voted to implement the change and this will see buses return to Clifton Street which will see its one way system reversed.
Clifton Street will regain buses - this is the 1980s route 26 terminus with the now sadly destroyed Yates building behind

Most south to north services from South Shore will continue to use Corporation Street, and southbound buses will use Market Street, but various services will now use Talbot Square and Clifton Street. Line 6 seems a candidate but it is not year clear what will happen to Lines 2, 3 and 4 that approach the Town Centre on Church Street as Clifton Street is not on a logical route in either direction.

Final proposals for individual services are not yet in the public domain and although the infrastructure cost (£120,000 for new stops and shelters) has been published, it is not yet clear what the negative impacts on passenger numbers and the beleaguered bus company's revenues will be.