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Jason Brooks, Strategic Planning Director, W.S.Atkins Transport Planning, on 13 November 2001
Following the rejection of the Salisbury by-pass on environmental grounds, Atkins were given a contract by the Government "to decide a strategy for traffic and provide solutions to problems" for the city.
The objectives were to reduce the impact of traffic; to reduce car dependency; to improve accessibility, and to maximise the efficiency and reliability of public transport.
The strategy was developed in five stages, each of which was reported separately. These were: to assess the problems; to develop computer models; to consult; to assess alternative solutions, and to identify the preferred options.
The preferred option was an integrated systems which was not `anti-car' but which included measures to reduce car dependency and traffic, then to measure serious local traffic problems, then to measure other traffic problems. The Key Principles were:
to integrate traffic policy with land use policy
to produce a strategy which was consistent with wider Government policies
to enable the changes to be delivered through the Local Transport Plan process
to implement the changes over a 5 10 year period, by 2011.
There were six components to be considered: Public Transport, Parking, Walking & Cycling; City centre management; Highway Network management and Travel awareness.
i) Park & Ride Sites. Five sites were designated
ii) Bus Priority. Bus lanes on radial routes and bus-only streets in city centre
iii) Concessionary Fares
iv) Information. Real-time information at bus stops
v) Integration of bus and rail services
i) Introduce Decriminalised Parking Zone
ii) Introduce a Controlled Parking Zone in the city centre
iii) reduce on-street parking places in the city centre and charge for on-street parking
iv) increase charges gradually for off-street car parks
v) extend short-stay car parks at the expense of long-stay
vi) reduce number of off-street parking spaces in city centre
vii) link the programme of changes with the construction of Park & Ride sites
Walking & Cycling
Provide cycles routs on road corridors
Provide adequate cycle locking facilities
Institute pedestrian priority in the centre
Reduce through vehicles in the centre by introduction of bus-only roads
For Wylye Valley villages along the A36 provide single-carriageway by-pass roads (not dual carriageway) (see map)
For city fringe area of Churchfields and Hanham provide similar by-pass
Advertise advantages of using public transport and of changes being introduced.
The proposed strategy was analysed using the NATA method of DTLR and compare it with a Reference strategy which dealt with the same components but less extensively (for example, two Park & Ride sites instead of five).
The impact of the proposed changes was estimated. It would reduce the rate of traffic growth but there would still be some growth, which was
considered necessary to support the prosperity of the city.
It would increase the use of public transport and of `slow' (walking & cycling) modes.
It would limit congestion in the centre to its present level.
There would be a significant improvement in air quality, as much due to the improvement of engines over the period as to the proposed strategy. But NOx and PM 10 particles would be reduced in the centre, although there would be a small increase in other parts of the area.
The economic advantage would amount to £15 million at 1998 values over the period to 2011, with a capital cost of £40M and an operating cost of £1M p.a.
The population of the area is about 65,000; there were 350 visits to exhibitions and 200 responses to forms. Over 70 % of the responses were from car users. To the broad question, 45% were against the scheme proposed, but when the individual items were considered more than half approved of the components, except for the reduction in parking spaces and increased parking charges, where 60% voted against. Some people considered the by-pass should have been constructed; others wanted more parking than at present, free buses, a new rail station, a reduction in school journeys and freight carried by rail.
The consultants' conclusion was that the proposed strategy would start to tackle the traffic problem but that restrictions on parking were necessary even though opposed in the consultation.
It was pointed out that the Government did not provide the cost of such schemes, they only permitted the local authority to borrow that amount of money. The interest charges and the subsidies on bus fares would be part of the Community charge.
Road charging requires an adequate public transport service before it is introduced. It works in some places abroad but not in others.
It was regretted that more consideration had not been given to rail travel; it was pointed out that this is a national rather than a local problem and there was limited scope for this strategy to affect it.
Tourist coaches seldom use Park & Ride sites because of the limited time they have available for a visit. School coaches sometimes do so.
There can be no blanket ban or time restriction for delivery vehicles, but individual arrangements can sometimes be negotiated.
As the number of car user is 5 or 10 times the number of public transport passengers, a reduction of 1% in car usage would increase the demand on public transport by 5 10 %. Achieving a substantial reduction in car usage would overload the bus system.