The council has recently been discussing a seemingly controversial proposal to redevelop the former waste site at Waungron Park and turn it into a bus interchange.
This appears to have divided opinion among councillors and pundits alike. However, as it relates to the Transport Strategy and the LDP, we should take a look at it if only to add context to where Cardiff is heading. Plus, some people asked us nicely for our opinions…
We must admit to have glossed over the “bus” section of the transport plan on first reading, but WalesOnline’s recent article about how different transport modes fared on the commute brought the bus network into focus.
Having spent a fair amount of time this winter on buses it’s probably fair to say that it is quite a slow way to get to and from town. Taffs Well to Cardiff on the 132 bus during the morning rush can take over an hour –a journey that we routinely do in 30 minutes on the Taff Trail. The main arteries of Cardiff snarl up something chronic at rush hour, so some things need to change.
This bus section of the plan – page 33 to be precise, contains the following:
Re-develop the former household waste site to provide a new strategic public transport facility to enable easy interchange between bus services and between bus and rail services.
Looking at it on the map, the Waungron Park site is conveniently located near the Waungron Park train station on the City Line. It is also quite near the new housing development sites planned for Rhydlafar. Yes, there’s a pattern forming here.
In order to obtain a 50/50 modal split between sustainable and unsustainable transport AND fit a lot more homes into the county, public transport needs a helping hand. The Waungron site appears to offer an opportunity to move people from one transport mode to the other, from bus to train and vice versa. There are also plans for further interchanges at Heath Hospital, Cardiff Bay and the East of Cardiff too.
Work with bus operators to identify and develop an expanded city bus network, including new cross-city and local routes, higher frequency services and more opportunities for new interchanges at Heath Hospital, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff West and East to make all parts of the city accessible by bus.
So, this isn’t going to be a one-off satellite station out near Fairwater, it’s the first of a series of these hubs aimed at facilitating additional routes that traverse Cardiff rather than directing you towards the centre. This lateral movement around the city is what we were banging on about in our Deep Dive posts. There’s merit to providing lateral routes whether on bus or on a bike.
Taken in isolation, the idea of creating a four-stand bus station out in Fairwater sounds a little odd. However, the bus network does need to improve and there are at least a few dozen schemes in the Transport Strategy aimed at doing that, including further hubs along the A48.
However, we know that money is tight at the council, so what little money there is needs to be spent wisely. We’re not convinced that the case for building these hubs has been made yet, when the buses that we have are spending much of their time going nowhere at peak times.
We would also like the council to invest in cycle lanes beyond their proposed primary routes. These, in terms of potential return on investment, particularly with regards to health and wellbeing are arguably a far better bet right now.
The discussion we need to be having is, can the council facilitate the cross-city journeys it wants to without building these hubs? Are they going to improve journey times for passengers, or would first investing in significant expansion of the bus lane network make more sense in the short term?
Investment in the bus network needs to be made, we doubt many would deny that and the 50/50 target depends on it. Perhaps develop the routes first; put the buses on the road and facilitate their speedy traversal of the city using more bus lanes, congestion charging and parking restrictions.
Then, if a need to provide waiting space for idle buses presents itself, these hubs should be able to make a case for themselves.