‘Get in the fast lane’: Call for speed up delivery of bus rapid transit in Norwich
PUBLISHED: 23:54 25 March 2018 | UPDATED: 23:54 25 March 2018
Transport bosses need to get into the fast lane in delivering more efficient cross-city bus services.
This is the message from the city’s Green group, which says the promise of bus rapid transit (BRT) on six key routes by 2026 – made in 2011 – is not being delivered quick enough.
However, Transport for Norwich has argued the past decade has seen significant improvements already made.
In 2011, six key cross-city routes were set out in the Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk Joint Core Strategy, to receive £50m of improvements by 2026.
These routes link the city centre to Dereham Road, Newmarket Road, Yarmouth Road, Salhouse Road, Cromer Road and Drayton Road.
Denise Carlo, Green councillor for the Nelson ward, claims just limited sections of infrastructure have been built along the Dereham Road and Newmarket Road routes.
She said: “At the current rate of progress, it will take decades to complete a public transport network fit for the 21st century.
“Meanwhile, fast, frequent and affordable buses are required for enabling residents to access new strategic employment sites around the periphery of Norwich, while new communities planned for the edge of Norwich will need good bus connections to the city centre.”
Martin Schmierer, leader of the Norwich Green group, said:
“The bus service in Norwich is woefully inadequate and it is clear we need greater investment to ensure our citizens can get around the city without having to own a car.”
Mike Stonard, vice chairman of the city council’s highways agency committee, however, said there have been “significant improvements” over the last 10 years.
He said: “Recent changes in the city centre, in particular those on St Stephen’s Street and Chapel Field North, were to target improvements to bus journey times and reliability which has been reflected in an increase in people using local services.
“Delivery of BRT isn’t just about infrastructure investment, it is a package of measures to benefit the service as a whole. Our delivery of the different elements that contribute towards a BRT network has been incremental since this is directly linked to the availability of funding.”
Call for funding bid
An £840m pot of government money for transport connections could be the key to transforming the city’s bus services.
The city’s Green group is urging the county council to bid for a share of the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund, which has made £840m available over the next four years to make improvements to transport links.
Mr Schmierer said: “Norwich would be a worthy recipient of some of this government funding.
“There are too many communities around Norwich unnecessarily cut off from the city centre.
“Every effort should be made to improve the public transport links in the city and I urge the county council to bid for this funding,”
Ms Carlo added: “The DfT says the fund should support new local transport links, particularly for those struggling to travel between city centres and suburban areas.
“Cross-city rapid bus transit would seem to fit the bill.”
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