Fringe Box



Letter: New Bus ‘Cages’ Bad for Traffic, Bad for the Environment

Published on: 21 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2015

From Lorimer Burn

Many motorists will have noticed the several roadworks on the A3100 between Guildford and Godalming in recent weeks.

The fresh tarmac shows where the bus layby used to exist. Now stopped buses will be difficult or impossible to pass.

The fresh tarmac shows where the bus lay-by used to exist. Now stopped buses will be difficult or impossible to pass.

County councillor David Goodwin [Lib Dem, Guildford South West] has told me that these are due to the construction of ‘bus cages’. A national directive requires the infilling of all bus lay-bys on ‘bus priority routes’ and that buses must stop on the road adjacent to the bus stop instead. The ‘cage’ refers to the yellow hatched line on the carriageway which delineates the bus stop.

I have heard of no announcement or consultation regarding this change. Its effects will be obvious and immediate.

At busy times, no longer will traffic be able to pass a bus while it waits to discharge and take on passengers. Long queues will build, drivers will become frustrated and more CO2 will be added to the atmosphere from unnecessarily idling engines. In general, the reasonably free flow of traffic will be continuously disrupted.

A traffic island opposite the bus stop will make passing even more difficult.

A traffic island opposite the bus stop will make passing even more difficult.

Buses used to wait in the lay-by if they were ahead of schedule. Will they now wait, parked, on the carriageway, holding up the traffic until it is time to move on?

This change is extraordinary, expensive, against all common sense, and has been foisted on us without any consultation. Explanation is required.

Editor’s comment: The Travel SMART website States :

“We’re making improvements to Surrey’s bus network

Getting the bus in Guildford, Woking, Redhill and Reigate has never been easier.

The Travel SMART team has made a series of improvements to the towns’ busiest bus stops. The project – paid for entirely by a successful bid to the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund – has seen a wealth of improvements made to the stops, all designed to help bus services be more punctual and reliable by reducing delays. The improvements are aimed at encouraging more local people to use buses and leave their cars at home, which will boost the local economy by easing traffic pressure on Surrey’s roads.

  • Raised kerbs – the kerbs near the bus stop have been raised so that passengers can have step-free access onto/off a low-floor bus. This will benefit passengers with mobility problems plus those who may have child buggies, or shopping trolleys.
  • Bus stop layouts – the layout of the bus stop waiting area has been improved so that the bus stop pole is not in the way of passengers getting on/off buses.
  • Waiting area improvements – the pavement at or around waiting areas has been resurfaced so as to eliminate trip hazards of broken paving/tarmac
  • Bus cage markings –  To prevent parking at bus stops, “no parking” road markings around the stops have been put down or refreshed, with enforceable “clearway” plates also attached to bus stop poles. This enables buses to get good access to the stops,whilst also ensuring they can pull up to the kerb in a straight line so that the new raised kerbs can be used by passengers.
  • Upgrades to Surrey’s Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) system – RTPI provides live information about the arrival of services either through electronic displays at stops or via smartphones”

What do you think? Are the changes an improvement or a waste of money which could have been beter used on other projects. Have your say. Please use the “Leave a reply” feature below.

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Responses to Letter: New Bus ‘Cages’ Bad for Traffic, Bad for the Environment

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Seems to enforce again the hatred of SCC highways against the motorist and favouring the bus rather than sharing the road space.

    As for the method of change, it’s again comfirming the Conservative groups (oligarchy) use of the Cabinet system. Make changes in secret, without any consultation, and endorse after the event.

  2. Terry Duckmanton Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    As a cyclist I am in favour of almost anything which is designed to make the use of private cars, particularly for short trips, less attractive. I have to say that this scheme will certainly succeed in doing just that.

    I am not sure that such schemes should also aim to make motorists angry as this one certainly will. Other than ensuring that the bus will have a clear route in front of it when setting off again the scheme has little to offer people using the route by other means. Surely it would be better if there were some reward for accepting the inconvenience, although in this instance I can think of nothing that could be offered.

    In my opinion it would be far better to work towards a fully pedestrianised town centre which would be a pleasure to visit. Park and ride schemes would accommodate visitors from outside Guildford and of course bicycle parking stands would abound on the edge of the pedestrianised area.

    Motorists who had to park some way away from their destination would be rewarded with a very pleasant place to be when they arrived.

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    With this change of procedure and the closing of subways, traffic congestion will worsen from its present unacceptable level at a time when we will no doubt also experience further major building works.

    Frankly I am sure I am not alone when I say this and the new building development will make life in Guildford intolerable.

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Anyone can see that this action is bonkers. It requires real genius to cook up anything to justify such nonsense.

    Unfortunately this decision follows a pattern of government decision making:

    1. without consulting anyone a group of unnamed bureaucrats make a ‘decision’.

    2. spend valuable money undoing an earlier investment.
    3. create an ex-post explanation borrowed from George Orwell’s book of News Speak.
    4. blame someone else for the inanity – usually central government.

    Does this remind anyone of the Guildford Local Plan?

  5. Brian Holt Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    I would like to comment as a retired bus and coach driver. It is stupid to waste money filling in bus lay-bys.

    Buses running early due to light traffic or not having to stop at bus stops will now have to stop on the road. Just imagine the impact on any road into Guildford served by more than one bus route. How many buses will be causing an obstruction?

    Also, school buses and private hire coaches, that have to load wheelchairs and disabled passengers or luggage, will now also be blocking the roads.

    Two bus lay-bys have been removed in Worplesdon Road, Stoughton: one outside the café near Woodbridge Hill, where vans, lorries and cars now block the bus stop all day; and outside the former Royal Hotel (now the Beijing restaurant), where the lay-by has been filled in and vans now park on the pavement between the kerb and the bus shelter, even through there are yellow lines.

    It is impossible for bus drivers to see if there are any passengers waiting at the bus stop and have driven off leaving passengers behind.

  6. Brian Holt Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    Will cyclist who want cars ban from the town centre, so they can have the roads to themselves, please remember that elderly and disable people, and businesses etc, need their cars to come into town.

    • Terry Duckmanton Reply

      March 24, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      I assume that when Brian Holt refers to ‘cyclist’ he means me.

      May I say that I do not want to keep the roads just for the benefit of cyclists. I think it is far more important to cater for pedestrians first and foremost. A pedestrianised town centre would be a far more pleasant environment for all.

      I would not wish to make life more difficult for elderly or disabled people, what we all need is easy access to what should be a pleasant place to shop and meet friends.

      Filling the town centre with private cars does nothing to improve the town, as such their use should be discouraged in my opinion. Towns and cities can function perfectly well without the use of private cars.

  7. Jim Allen Reply

    March 22, 2015 at 10:23 am

    The ‘Highway men’ of SCC are trying to make us all ‘footpads’ without considering this:

    In a survey, 50 destinations averaging 14 miles travel distance was found to be the average travel to work pattern in Burpham.

    It is impossible to provide a public transport system to fufill the needs of working people – all arriving between 8 and 9 o’clock. Trying to force the working people from their cars by making traffic worse is doomed to failure from the very start.

    The bus lanes of Guildford lie unused up to 52 minutes per hour (A320 – maximum eight buses and hour bus lane traversed it in one minute or less).

    The buses fail to actually go where people want. I see no buses in the industrial estate of Slyfield where it is alledged that over 2,000 people work.

    I see no buses going in the Ladymead from Burpham, or from Cranleigh to Guildford railway station.

    It’s time Surrey Highways came back down to earth and realised when dealing with Guildford they are not dealing with central London or even outer London. We have different problems and different solutions are required.

    The closing of bus lay-bys is an utter nonsense.

    In the 20-plus years living in this area I have only used the bus a handful of times because: it is quicker to walk from destination to destination or the buses simply do not provide the service required and a taxi or private car is a better option.

  8. Lorimer Burn Reply

    March 22, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Brian Holt (retired bus driver) provides a very useful confirmation of my worst fears – that busses will now not only park on the road to load and unload passengers, wheelchairs etc, but where necessary, sit there until the timetable catches up with them.

    This deliberately engineered road block on main roads will cause havoc with traffic flows.

    It makes no sense that on the one hand, road engineers are designing roads to be free flowing and safer, with better sight lines and fewer obstructions, and on the other hand, are introducing mobile road blocks where before there were none.

    It will be of great interest to see to what degree journey times are increased. It may be of no coincidence that this is being introduced just before the school holidays when traffic is substantially lighter.

  9. John Robson Reply

    March 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    With the levels of congestion that Guildford currently suffers – due in part to the lack of a viable, efficient public transport alternative – you couldn’t make this up, though somebody clearly has.

    Why is a blanket “national directive” from the “Travel SMART / lunacy team” being implemented carte blanche in Guildford, with no thought that it will cause chaos on the narrower roads of this borough. Where is the common sense?

    Do any of our local councillors challenge the dictats from Tory HQ anymore? Or has the all-conquering Executive battered any kind of free thinking into submission?

    I find it strange, that the Highways Agency, Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council cannot find any money for potholes to repair our crumbling infrastructure, with some of our roads in a chronic state of disrepair. However, “we” can find the taxpayers’ money to fill in lay-bys which cost money to construct and currently help traffic to flow, just “so that the bus stop pole is not in the way of passengers getting on/off buses.”

  10. Neville Bryan Reply

    March 23, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    On the face of it this looks absolutely nuts. Guildford has enough jams and traffic hell without creating more artificial ones by interrupting free flowing traffic and filling the bus stop lay-bys.

    I would really be interested to hear the full Surrey County Council rational for this along with whats behind this “national directive”!

    I wonder how many of the new Highways Agency staff will be travelling to work on that route next month?

  11. Dominique Kelly Reply

    March 24, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Sheer bonkers.
    Next we will be seeing money wasted on parks turned into tourist attractions….oh wait a minute

  12. John Lomas Reply

    March 24, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I don’t think this is a specifically Guildford problem.

    I have seen the same sort of development in many other locations around the country, I suspect there was an instruction (or a suggestion with “or elses”) came from the Department of Transport.

  13. Dominique Kelly Reply

    March 24, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    In response to Mr Lomas, at least GBC could have pushed back, giving local reasons why this wouldn’t work in our area, on our road network with our existing traffic issues – and made that disagreement public.

    These very valid reasons have been detailed above.

    Just another example of the current Conservative GBC/SCC who have got all of their priorities and reasoning wrong.

  14. Andrew Birt Reply

    March 25, 2015 at 11:16 am

    GBC won’t be happy until Guildford becomes permanently gridlocked 24/7.

  15. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 30, 2015 at 9:17 am

    A change of culture is needed is dealing with all matters public. The most important of all is ‘justice’. A just treatment of all in every single aspect of our lives makes the world a happier place. Treat everyone justly and equally in sharing resources, wealth, facilities and services etc. must be the motto of all governments either central or local.

    Consultation is the process of administering this just system. Without it, top down decisions are simply dictatorial and archaic! The best solution that satisfies the majority must come about through the spark of consultation both for and against any proposal.

    Where technical expertise is necessary in formulating any proposal, these must come from those who are qualified and experienced and elected councilors taking advice from them. In-house expertise no longer exists within most councils as they rely on bought in consultation that may lack local knowledge. Any central directive must have provision for suitability of application based on local conditions and therefore should not be binding in all cases.

    In this particular case, doing away with bus bays where they exist appears to me a senseless decision. Where bus bays do not exist, by all means create cages but in locations where there is still room for traffic to go around them albeit causing some restrictions but not altogether an impossible situation.

    A word of caution is raising kerb heights – these could be safety hazards for pedestrians unaware of the sudden increase in the drop to the road surface from the pavement.

    A complete rethinking is urgently needed before any money is wasted.

  16. Brian Holt Reply

    March 30, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Kerbs have been raised because all new buses will now be having low floor entrances to take wheelchairs.

    They must now have wheelchair access and bus floors cannot be any lower because of speed humps. So kerbs have to be raised to have a level entrance otherwise someone could have a accident falling out of their wheelchair trying to get on a bus.

    Decisions must be made by people who are working in transport, and can drive those buses who know what the problems are, not by people with no knowledge of buses.

  17. Terry Stevenson Reply

    March 31, 2015 at 12:38 am

    In many cases, I suspect, relocating bus stops into the main carriageway is associated with the difficulties buses have rejoining busy traffic flows from a lay-by.

    Another consideration when providing access to public transport for those with mobility issues is minimising the gradients to the raised section of the footway and the resultant ‘crossfall’, particularly in the case of narrow footways.

    But of course, none of these issues are probably of any interest to someone in their little metal cocoon, chomping at the bit to get to the free-flowing utopia that is the gyratory.

    If only the congestion there wasn’t caused by the sheer volume of private cars. Oh, but of course, to the car drivers, it’s the bus lane and pedestrians wishing to use an ‘at grade’ crossing facility that are to blame for its woes.

    A change of culture is most definitely in order. Perish the thought if this might be one which does not place the private car at the top of the list of priorities.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 1, 2015 at 9:02 am

      While Mr Stevenson may have a couple of valid points, there are still problems. Having two buses (coming from Cranleigh) with a total in excess of 100 seats used by only nine passengers is not efficient.

      Buses and bus lanes take 50% of road capacity. For instance in Stoke Road there are eight buses an hour: that’s 52 minutes of unused tarmac throughout the day, with over 50 destinations for workers averaging 14 miles from home to work. The scheduling of buses to get every one to work at eight o’clock is a schedule too far. The principle of ‘buses first’ works well in London and Manchester but not in Guildford.

      It is time the reality of the situation is accepted. The St Lucia public transport system would work better in Guildford (fill a 10 seat mini bus up then leave for the destination) than scheduling (at the wrong time) 50 seater empty polluters on our roads demanding priority over the minority who simply want to go to a destination that no bus company wants to serve.

  18. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 31, 2015 at 8:01 am

    There are buses that can tilt and lower their entrance platforms. These operate in many many cities around the world. Please have a read of the website –

    It is not always the best method by raising kerbs to facilitate entrance to buses especially if they are going to be new buses. These new buses could be designed and equipped with most adaptable means of entry by wheel chairs and buggies etc.

    I wonder if the filling in of these bus bays have gone through independent safety audits? I think blocking of traffic lanes by bus cages could cause more accidents when drivers attempt to unsafely overtake buses knowing they are going to block their way. This would certainly worsen existing dire congestion in Guildford.

    In comparison, compliance with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Acts appear not to apply to Network Rail when Guildford railway station is concerned. The platforms do not have lifts and therefore inaccessible to wheelchairs and buggies. Existing ramps are too steep.

    There was no mention of any such improvements by Solum Regeneration in their recent presentation of the scheme.

  19. Terry Stevenson Reply

    April 1, 2015 at 12:07 am

    ‘I wonder if the filling in of these bus bays have gone through independent safety audits?’

    Does that therefore mean that every bus stop that is not accommodated by means of a lay-by is a threat to life and limb?

    There are numerous examples of this type of facility on classified roads and others highways both within Guildford, Surrey and the country as a whole.

    I would welcome statistical evidence which suggests those situated within carriageways are more unsafe than those located within lay-bys. Bibhas, you may wish to take a look at the following to see if it supports your theory, before making sweeping generalisations.

  20. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    April 1, 2015 at 7:36 am

    In response to Mr Stevenson.

    I have raised a couple of questions on safety. I did not make a sweeping generalisation. Bus bays were constructed where possible to aid movement of traffic. Constrictions on roads are bad enough without making artificial ones. The fact that buses have difficulty in rejoining the traffic does not necessarily mean that bus bays had to be removed and traffic had to be stopped behind the buses while they stop at the newly created bus cages. Do you consider that it is fair to create more traffic jams and pollution from standstill traffic all over Guildford? I don’t suppose so.

    All road users have to be treated justly and measures to ‘improve’ matters must not favour one group at the expense of others. A way to give priority to buses emerging from bus bays should be created. May be it is feasible to create new road markings. For example, yellow boxes painted alongside the bus bays with a sign on the approach to ‘Give way to buses’ would have sufficed and a video camera installed nearby to warn the drivers that they risk fines if they violate traffic rules? Just a thought. In my view this would have been a better solution rather than filling in bus bays.

    Where bus stops are on single carriageway roads, they do create traffic constrictions and are inherently unsafe by forcing traffic to cross over to the oncoming lane.

    If you have seen my website for the improvement of the gyratory, you would have seen my equitable treatment of pedestrians and traffic alike. As a retired professional engineer, I do not jump into conclusions. I only air my views after careful consideration of problems and their possible solutions.

  21. Mary Bedforth Reply

    April 1, 2015 at 8:32 am

    How many bus stops in Surrey? Total cost to council tax payers for the alterations? Anyone know?

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