Thursday, 12 January 2017
Super Job at St James - or Not? Part 3
It Has All Started!
As of yesterday morning lorry loads of bright red barriers and a colossal convocation of cones had appeared at St James The Square. So what exactly is happened.
There is a plan.
With a cursory glance this does not appear very different from the existing road layout. The outbound bus stop on Weedon Road (upper left) is still there although it appears to have lost its bus lane.
The bus lane on Harlestone Road is still there.
But on closer inspection we can see one change that affects public transport.
There, plonked provocatively in the middle of the junction are the words "BUS ONLY". It would appear, therefore that, instead of grinding round two side of the triangle ...
... buses will whizz (fat chance) straight along Weedon Road (map centre left), cross all traffic to and from Harlestone Road (map centre to top) and pull on to a bus stop.
The planners have come up with a corker to facilitate this. Instead of one common stop for into town journeys, they have proudly announced that there will be THREE. And here they are, in yellow ...
... with on in (roughly) the current location and two extras in an extended bus only area which extends further towards the town centre.
But why three? All buses from this multi-stop go to the town centre. Most passengers want to go to the town centre. Under this scheme passengers will have to nip in a sprightly fashion between the stops. Seems a bit silly?
The stop outside the former Merthodist Church remains for buses via Harlestone Road and to Kings Heath.
The red bars, by the way, simply appear on the maps as the "boundary of the work area".
This is how Northampton Highways Authority describes the benefits of this work.
Interstitial notes by fbb!
A Cycle CoNNect Hub for Cycle hire and potential electric cycles
Cycle CoNNect with two capital Ns? It is Northampton's somewhat limited version of London's "Boris Bike" scheme. Here, hidden behind a line of benches, is the town centre rack and booking terminal.
Dedicated charging points for electric vehicles
Interactive transport information totem
with live information that could include
local weather, air quality, events and attractions
Here is a London Transport "totem" (yawn) ...
... simply a monolith with a video screen. It might (might!) display bus departure lists but a highlight, of course, would be telling its readers what the weather was doing? (How about looking up?) And what are you supposed to do with "air quality" information? Stop breathing of the air is not good enough?
Installation of a new bus shelter
with real-time passenger information displayed
Most information in Northampton is "unreal" time, just a version of the timetable; and all stops at the Square already have it.
Relocated bus stops on Weedon Rd to minimise bus journey times.
Bus routes simplified and improved to reduce journey times
No bus routes have changed (or will change) as such. This sounds grand but probably refers to the rerouting of buses via Weedon Road as guessed at above.
Free WIFI access at bus stops
Hmmm. At least the Jimmy's End youff will be able to bully one another on social media AND clog up the bus shelters, leaving real passengers to stand back for fear of getting mugged.
Bluetooth journey time coverage and cycle and pedestrian counters
at key entry and exit points. Air quality sensors
Variable message signs displaying live journey and destination data
fbb has absolutely no idea what benefit these will be to local residents. Even if they work.
Enhanced traffic signals to give priority to buses
Believe that when you see it!
Pedestrian crossing improvements
New carriageway surfacing
Astounding! But now comes the real purpose of the project.
Increased capacity for road users
And that means cars and lorries!
Responding, in part, to an Anonymous comment yesterday, fbb's concerns about this project are prompted by our Northampton correspondent who used to live there. It would appear the the Weedon Road project is part of a national "initiative" partly supported by some external funding. There is an undecut of feeling that this is money looking for a project, rather than an attempt to get to grips with Northampton's very real traffic problems.
It will certainly do nothing for the buses.
And whilst the work is going on ...
... the humble bus passenger is being treated very badly - as we shall see tomorrow.
Next St James bus blog : Friday 13th January