Fringe Box



Opinion: Don’t Park & Ride – Just Ride

Published on: 3 Apr, 2015
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2015

A visitor from Canada offers his solution to Guildford’s traffic problem.

Frequent buses are the key

Frequent buses are the answer

By David Bentley

In Canada, where I have lived after emigrating almost 50 years ago, I am the proud owner of a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria, which is equipped with V8-driven rear-wheel drive.

In Guildford, where I have a flat off the Portsmouth Road that I visit twice a year, I am the equally proud owner of a seniors rail card and a walking stick.

Travelling on UK trains is an expensive delight, these days – especially if, as I did recently, you go to places like Manchester, which are routinely served by three Virgin trains an hour out of Euston.

Coming from sparsely populated Nova Scotia, where just three trains a week connect to Montreal, I can say that Mr Branson is one of my favourite bus pass

But I’m not here to extoll the virtue of trains.

If I were to return permanently to the UK, I would need just one other transportation aid: one of those bus passes that are handed out free to seniors.

As an outsider I can tell you that buses are the way to soothe the frazzled lives of motorists who must cope daily with the frustrations of Guildford and all the other “Gridfords” up and down the country.

Opinion Logo 2I saw the answer in Manchester, where an unending parade of double decker buses trundles around the city – and particularly through the thronged campus of Manchester University.

Never mind spending £100 billion on HS2.

Take that cash and pour it into buses – so many of them that they’d run every five minutes on all the roads that are currently clogged.

No need to build new roads. Just add buses by the thousand and most of the cars would fade away.

Just imagine. You walk out of your house, hop almost immediately on a bus, and get to wherever you were going by car – faster, cheaper and with much less hassle.

Don’t Park & Ride.

Just Ride – & never visit Parking Hell again.

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Responses to Opinion: Don’t Park & Ride – Just Ride

  1. Sally Parrott Reply

    April 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Brilliant article Mr Bentley!

    With even single-decker buses replacing perhaps 30 cars on the roads, Guildford’s traffic problems would be eased, and our children would breathe purer air.

    Perhaps you’ve forgotten British snobbery however? Even though Margaret Thatcher didn’t say ‘anybody seen on a bus over thirty has been a failure in life’, there is a widespread disdain for buses among men, apart from those who proudly show the free senior bus pass. So perhaps bus travel would need to be free to make it socially acceptable for all? It might also have to be renationalised to make it efficient and responsive to demand?

    Also the ridiculous infilling of bus lay-bys, recently reported on Guildford Dragon, would naturally have to be reversed.

    As for rail, I agree about scrapping HS2. In my opinion we should concentrate largely on maximising use of existing rail lines: abolish all those wildly-varying fares, just charge more for rush hours (sorry, commuters) than for quieter times, and have affordable fares even when people don’t buy tickets in advance. Use longer trains on longer platforms, and increase running hours.

    Does anyone remember the super-cheap workman’s ticket for very early travellers?

    In my opinion, perhaps only renationalisation of public road and rail transport, coupled with efficient, intelligent management, will enable the UK to achieve maximum travel efficiency and pleasure.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    April 3, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    We have two single-decker buses running every running every 15 minutes from Onslow Park and Ride frequently devoid of passengers every day now.

    Heaven knows what its costs the council tax payer.

    It must add to the town’s traffic congestion and air pollution.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      They are empty because they have to run to a timed schedule. Why not wait until they reach a level of capacity before moving of and shrink the size to 15 seaters? If that was done it would become workable.

      There would need to be at least one empty shuttle vehicle at each end to provide seating. This is what they do at the air ports. The buses simply move off when full and the half empty bus at the other end moves off to meet passenger need.

      There is too much rigid thinking in public transport. It is time time make flexible the schedules and sizes.

  3. Brian Holt Reply

    April 3, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    I have read David Bentley’s article, he suggests just buy thousands of buses to get cars off the road.

    Forget what happens in other countries, here in Britain there is not the money about. The government and county councils are cutting back on subsidies to bus companies, so where is the money coming from to buy these buses? Does he know how much each bus will cost?

    Then where are all these bus drivers coming from, not every driver can drive 40 feet long buses, and do a vehicle maintenance check daily before taking the buses out. Our local bus company is always short of drivers now, not many people want to start at 6am on a frosty morning, and not finished till midnight sometimes, plus working weekends and Bank Holidays.

    Over the last few years there have been two bus companies, in the Guildford area, that have gone out of business: Countryliner and Tillingbourne.

    Brian Holt is a former coach driver.

    • John Robson Reply

      April 4, 2015 at 9:55 am

      Genius, as usual the answer could be so simple…

      Seventh richest economy in the world? Dave and George tell us the economy’s booming so it must be true, our leaders also tell us Surrey is the powerhouse of the British economy, so why can’t we afford to invest billions on public transport? Oh hold on, we already do, but decades of mismanagement and profit taking by private operators later.

      I think the main reason people don’t use buses is they are too infrequent and expensive for most people, so in our busy lives the current system just doesn’t work. The Park and Rides should be free.

      Locally we still do not have a joined transport system and it appears the SOLUM regeneration plan will not address the problem either.

      When you look at systems in other towns, cities and countries the comparison is embarrassing.

      As an aside, why will HS2 cost nine times per mile more than the brilliant French TGV system? It’s unlikely HS2 will deliver the benefits that the glossy brochure promises. Sound familiar?

      Oh, and the real reason Guildford Borough Council doesn’t have more buses to use our dedicated, empty bus lanes in Guildford – your council makes £5-6m a year in town centre parking charges. As usual it’s all about the money.

  4. Russell Morris Reply

    April 4, 2015 at 8:22 am

    In this part of Surrey, many settlements are small and scattered. They are often on lanes not readily suited to buses.

    How easy would it really be to establish a bus network linking most houses to most local towns with anything like a service at five minute intervals? That’s why Park & Ride works, it gathers widespread visitors at suitable gathering points which buses can efficiently serve.

  5. Russell Morris Reply

    April 4, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Why is HS2 so much more costly to construct than TGV? Perhaps just part of the reason is that the inland rural population of France is so much sparser than in the UK and it so much easier and cheaper to acquire the land with less opposition. (France is two and a half times the area of the UK but with only a similar population.)

    Just as with bus use, it is not always meaningful to compare transport and planning provisions with those in a other geographical and economic context. Canada, France, Manchester and Guildford are simply very different places.

  6. Sally Parrott Reply

    April 5, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Perhaps the UK should copy the transport system of Switzerland? They have an efficient, affordable and integrated public transport network that links even the smallest and most isolated village to the hub, so a car is unnecessary; private vehicle emissions and air pollution are minimised, and Swiss businesses are efficiently served.

    In the UK our buses and trains seem to be run primarily as a source of income for the owners and operators, rather than for the people. (Does this also apply to GBC car parks?)

    What will it take for us to insist on action to improve our public transport systems? Must we wait until urban children routinely suffer from asthma? Or until Guildford is routinely gridlocked?

    We could ask the canvassers who will be asking for our votes in the next few weeks if their parties have plans to improve public transport. And our councils can insist that local developers of new homes contribute substantial sums for public transport infrastructure.

  7. Terry Stevenson Reply

    April 7, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Re-regulate bus services / bring them back into public ownership? How very 1960s and 70s.

    I recall that in the 1980s places such as (the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire were hounded by the government of the day to relinquish their excellent public transport service).

    There is nothing like a bit of political dogma to ruin perfectly good services and create congestion to boot.

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