Perhaps the hardest part of accepting the proposed urbanisation of my community through more than doubling the housing stock in the village is transport. We are served by one B-road, a closed railway station and poor bus services. The B-road is also an arterial route from Gloucestershire to the motorway. There is very little employment opportunity in the village and no reasonable scope to increase it. We are a rural parish.
So today I met with a bunch of people to review the public transport needs of a new development at the east end of the village. A hundred houses were built, including of course a number of social housing. Now they are all occupied it has become clearer how hard it is for someone not running a car to gain access to buses. Whether it be for lack of finance or because of not wishing to own a car on environmental grounds, catching a bus didn’t ought to be life threatening.
Once, things were simpler. You could flag down a bus just about anywhere. Now, traffic density and speed makes that unfeasible. The nearest west-going bus for residents of this development is a few hundred metres up the road, the nearest east-going stop is closer, and across the road on a narrow grass verge alongside a ditch with no footway connecting it. Imagine going shopping in the nearest town, via bus, with kids and bags…
The s106 funding that might have dealt with this was spent, rightly, on a pedestrian crossing further into the village, ending a long term problem for children accessing the school buses. But now we have this problem to deal with.
Perhaps we were thinking this would be an easy fix. A dollop of tarmac and a new bus shelter… But while the village road has developed over time and has many and varied narrow and improbably cambered footways or none at all, anything done now has of course to meet modern standards and be DDA compliant. And that adds a couple of zeros to the costs.
The grass verge on the east-going side is narrow; too narrow for a two metre hard standing which would overlay the drainage ditch. The ditch therefore needs a culvert. The current position is too close to a junction, so needs moving, and in either position has no footway to it. More expense. Nor any safe crossing. That’s more expense squared.
On the west-going side the footway is in two sections and cambered, to make up for the fact that the old pavement is now lower than the height of the tarmac road. To make a bus boarding level would raise the difference to a significant fall height, so a railing is required to protect against this. The whole pavement cannot be raised, because someone’s front gate and door would then be several feet lower than the edge of the footway!
The overgrowing laurel hedge seems a minor matter!
Having determined the minimum standards that would have to be met for the two sheltered bus stops, the council designers pointed out the need for a safe crossing – which nowadays means a signal controlled crossing. There’s another fifty grand gone then, minimum. And of course the residents in the immediate vicinity would need to be consulted formally. Time, not only cost, is going up.
We of course do not have the money for this project, but at least now we know what we need money for. We can seek quotes (for which we need a quote), and begin to build a project file and start looking for grants from the usual places such as Lottery funding etc. I’m writing this both to refresh my memory of the meeting and because people sometimes ask me what I do all day long, for no money…