Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Councillors should take the bus once in a while

After scrapping one of the best train/bus interchanges in the country, Cardiff City Council still does not have funding in place for its planned replacement bus station. Describing the situation as "outrageous", Liberal Democrat council group leader Elizabeth Clark said she feared Cardiff wouldn’t “have a proper bus station again”.

Meanwhile, Neath Port Talbot has been taking out bus shelters - even relatively new ones - and gradually replacing them. The new ones (presumably to be subsidised by advertising in illuminated panels) are airier and more attractive than the old blue jobs. Time will tell whether they are more vandal-resistant. The trouble is that the programme is too long drawn out. For instance, my regular stop for a week or more has had neither shelter nor bus stop sign. The new shelters still do not have printed timetables. The optimist in me anticipates a linked electronic indicator system such as the one which has been in operation in Cardiff for many years - there are already indicators in Neath's Victoria Gardens. The cynic fears that this is an attempt to push would-be passengers to the council's phone app. Everybody has a mobile these days, right?

In each case, the council clearly believes it is doing good and that the upgrades will be better than what went before. However, officials should make sure that the transition is as swift and as painless as physically possible. The Cardiff example is egregious, but passengers in Neath are suffering a period of inconvenience and there is no intimation as to when it will end. If councillors had to rely on public transport as their young, old and physically handicapped citizens have to, perhaps these people - and those of us who believe that public transport is the "green" future - will receive more consideration.

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