Category Archives: Transport

Speed limits on southern ring road to change

Oxfordshire County Council consulted in spring 2017 on proposed changes to speed limits on the southern ring road and some streets nearby. This public consultation had four responses.

The consultation report is here:  http://mycouncil.oxfordshire.gov.uk/documents/s37483/CMDE_JUN2917R04%20-%20Speed%20limite%20reductions%20-%20A423%20Oxford.pdf  

The meeting is today 29 June 17. (Update 1 Jul 17; this was approved on the 29th June.)

The Cabinet Member for the Environment is RECOMMENDED to approve the proposal for a 50mph speed limit on the A423 Oxford Southern bypass as advertised, but with a further consultation being carried out on revised proposals for the linking roads as set out in paragraph 10 of this report.

This excludes any changes to speed limits in Hinksey Hill and Boars Hill recently under discussion.

 

 

Oxfordshire County Council removes all bus subsidies from 118 routes

Of course, this decision only affects the most vulnerable of us; bus riders. At least his name is on it so you can tell him what you think about his decision.

Here’s the letter I just had.

Dear Councillor,

RE: Subsidised buses and Dial-a-Ride – Cabinet Decision

I am writing to tell you about a decision made by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet that will have an impact on subsidised bus and Dial-A-Ride services in Oxfordshire. The council’s decision making cabinet met on 10th November 2015 to consider public feedback to the subsidised bus service and Dial-a-Ride service proposals that we put forward in a consultation held between 19th June and 15thSeptember this year, and to then make a decision about how to make the savings we need to from these services.

The Decision

At this meeting Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet took the decision that the Council withdraw all subsidies paid to run 118 subsidised bus routes in Oxfordshire. This decision is subject to approval at the council’s overall budget setting meeting in early 2016.

A further decision was also taken by the cabinet that if the County Council’s funding position contained the necessary surplus, this surplus would, where possible, be used to subsidise bus services that prioritise off-peak services. In addition rural services would be prioritised and special exemptions made for deprived areas and school routes. This final decision would be taken at the full budget setting meeting, attended by all Oxfordshire’s Councillors, in February 2016.

The attached document ‘Cabinet Meeting Subsidised Bus Decision’ contains a list of all bus routes potentially affected by these changes and the approximate date that a specific subsidy would be withdrawn under these 2 alternate budget scenarios. Under the worst case scenario of all subsidies being withdrawn a total of nine per cent of the bus network in Oxfordshire would be effected, meaning that more than 90% of bus services in Oxfordshire will not be affected by this cabinet decision.

A further decision was taken to cease funding the Dial a Ride service as of April 2016. The Council propose to work with community transport groups across the county to try and develop schemes which can meet similar needs to those which Dial-a-Ride currently serves.

And finally a decision was also taken not to allocate resources to a specific community transport fund at this time, but instead, that once the council’s future funding position is clearer, full council would establish a broader fund available for all sectors, including the community transport sector, along with other similar initiatives. The council is in the process of collating local transport solutions that were put forward as part of the consultation process for further analysis and potential support. We encourage groups and individuals to continue to come forward to the Council directly with ideas that would address local transport needs.

Withdrawal of a subsidy does not necessarily mean cancelation of the bus route

The withdrawal of an Oxfordshire County Council bus subsidy does not necessarily mean that the service would be cancelled (or the subsidised portion of the service). Removing a subsidy does not guarantee that the service itself will cease. If the service is well-used to a profitable level, the operator may decide to continue running it without any Oxfordshire County Council subsidy (or another operator step in and take it on). It would be up to the operator to review the service and decide whether they wish to continue operating it, or modify it to try and make it profitable (for example by re-routing or modifying the timetable). Oxfordshire County Council is in discussions with operators and will encourage them to try to maintain or commercialise services wherever possible if a subsidy is withdrawn.

Supported transport savings

As part of the council’s budget setting process in February 2015, councillors reduced the overall supported transport budget by a fifth (£6.3 million). As far as possible, we are trying to make these savings in supported transport by running services more efficiently.  We have identified that we can achieve £3.7 million in savings by bringing together all the supported transport services we operate and fund.  However, this is not enough.  The council needs to find a minimum of £2.6 million in additional savings and this means looking at supported transport services which the council is not required to provide by law.  This will inevitably impact some people in the county.

Why is the council making savings?

On-going cuts in central government funding mean Oxfordshire County Council has to make savings. The council is currently in the process of making approximately £290 million of savings. Those savings began in 2010 and run until 2018. On top of those savings, the council currently believes it may need to save a further £50 million.

The consultation

Between June 19th and September 15th we ran a public consultation on proposals to change subsidised buses and the Dial-a-Ride service in Oxfordshire. In total, 2656 responses to the consultation questionnaire were received, as well as numerous emails and letters, 13 detailed submissions and 7 petitions. 275 people attended public and specific stakeholder meetings about the proposals we put forward. The level of interest in the consultation demonstrates how highly the public values these supported transport services, with many regarding them as an important part of their local community infrastructure, and finding it difficult to prioritise between different types of services. While people were understandably concerned about reducing these services, there was also an appreciation of the exceptionally hard financial situation the Council finds itself in, and the difficult decisions this requires us to make.

Moving forward

The council is committed to engaging with commercial bus companies to see if they can take on any of the effected services on a commercial basis. We also recognise that Oxfordshire’s 62 community transport schemes may take an increasingly important role in transporting those in the local communities with the greatest need. We therefore plan to focus support on this sector in the coming months and years. We are also committed to delivering a marketing and direct engagement campaign in the coming months to raise awareness and to support the growth of community transport in Oxfordshire, to increase the number of volunteers and new schemes within the sector.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message and please don’t hesitate to contact my team at supported.transport@Oxfordshire.gov.uk if you have any further queries about changes to these services.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr David Nimmo Smith
Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet – Environment
South Oxfordshire District Councillor
Henley on Thames Town Councillor

County Consultation on bus services and Dial a Ride

Here’s a letter I had from the County about this consultation. ~ Debby

 

Dear Oxfordshire District Councillor,

RE: Subsidised buses and Dial-a-Ride – public consultation

I am writing to tell you about a public consultation being held over the next 12 weeks about a possible change to the subsidised bus and Dial-A-Ride services in Oxfordshire.

The council would like to get your views so that we can fully understand all opinions and potential impacts of any proposed change. Further details about our proposals and an opportunity to respond can be found at: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stconsultation

As an District Councillors, we would also be grateful if you took the time to pass this information on to any of your constituents who you think may be effected or in any way interested in feeding back into our consultation process.

Why is the council making savings?

On-going cuts in central government funding mean Oxfordshire County Council has to make savings. The council is currently in the process of making approximately £290 million of savings. Those savings began in 2010 and run until 2018. On top of those savings, the council currently believes it may need to save a further £60 million.

Supported transport savings

As part of the council’s budget setting process in February 2015, councillors reduced the overall supported transport budget by a fifth (£6.3 million). As far as possible, we are trying to make these savings in supported transport by running services more efficiently.  We have identified that we can achieve nearly £3.7 million in savings by bringing together all the supported transport services we operate and fund.  However, this is not enough.  The council needs to find a minimum of £2.6 million in additional savings and this means looking at supported transport services which the council is not required to provide by law.  This will inevitably impact some people in the county.

Have your say on our proposals

Please visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stconsultation and let us know what you think of our proposal for the Dial a Ride service, and our proposals in relation to subsidised bus services including:

Subsidised buses – Withdrawing bus subsidies altogether

Subsidised buses – Reducing funding to subsidised bus services – and adopting the principle of prioritising, where possible, services most likely to be used by the elderly and disabled

Dial-a-Ride – Ending direct funding of the Dial-a-Ride service – encouraging community transport groups across the county to deliver a replacement service.

You can read a copy of the consultation document online at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stconsultation or pick up a copy at an Oxfordshire County Council library.

We are also organising five ‘Subsidised Bus and Dial-a-Ride public consultation’ events at venues across Oxfordshire to explain our proposals and to get feedback. Meetings are open to everyone and are being held on:

  • Mon 6 July in Banbury Town Hall, Banbury – 10.30am-12.00pm
  • Mon 6 July in Didcot Civic Hall, Didcot – 16.00pm-17.30pm
  • Tues 7 July in Witney Methodist Church, Witney – 10.30am-12.00pm
  • Weds 8 July in Abingdon Guildhall, Abingdon – 16.00pm-17.30pm
  • Weds 8 July in OCC County Hall, Oxford – 19.00pm-20.30pm

Oxfordshire County Council have asked that the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC), a not for profit, community development organisation are the independent facilitator during the consultation. If you need support in commenting on the county council’s proposals or are interested in attending one of our events, please get in touch with the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council on 01865 883488 or email orcc@oxonrcc.org.uk.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message and please don’t hesitate to contact my team at Supported.Transport@Oxfordshire.gov.uk if you have any further queries.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr David Nimmo Smith

Changes to City 4 Bus Routes

Their webpage title says, ‘Improvements to your city4’. That’s a matter of opinion. And perspective.

Here’s their announcement: http://city.oxfordbus.co.uk/news-service-updates/city4-changes/

City 4 timetable May 2015.jpg

Click on photo to make bigger

The 4A, which I use to travel between Botley and Oxford City centre, is reducing from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes. I remember a few years back when they made the change from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes, ‘To improve reliability’. I think a bus was no more likely to show up after the change. I wonder how they measure their reliability on these routes? Maybe I should ask.

I discovered long ago that if I had an appointment in the centre, I needed to go really early. I needed to take the bus before the one I actually could take because the bus was likely to not show up on time, or at all. So now I either have to go into town more than an hour ahead of time, or drive in (if my appointment is important).

The plusses: every 30 minutes to Wootton (which is the same service as to Oxford), for all of us who commute to or from Wootton. And the 4C from Wood Farm will deliver you to the rail station forecourt, but no longer comes to Botley.

Hey, I’m cynical and grumpy today. See the schedule via the link above, and decide for yourself if these changes are really ‘improvements’ for your bus travel enjoyment.

Local Transport Plan Raises Further Concern for the Green Belt

Debby and Emily in Sunningwell 2014

Debby and Emily in Sunningwell

This is a guest post by Emily Smith.

Sunningwell Parish Council and SPADE (Sunningwell Parishioners Against Damage to the Environment) held a consultation event the last weekend in March, to find out what residents thought about the County Council’s Local Tranposrt Plan (LTP).

There was an excellent turn out and some very involved discussions about the potential impact of the LTP and the Vale’s Local Plan on our villages.

Ideas outlined in the LTP include building new Park & Ride sites outside of Oxford’s ring road and creating a ‘diamond’ junction at Lodge Hill to help ease congestion in Abingdon and Oxford. If all of the proposals in the LTP consultation went ahead alongside the housing development proposed in the Vale’s Local Plan, residents are concerned that Sunningwell and the surrounding area could change dramatically. While many of the plans in the consultation are very vague, local people took this opportunity to tell the County Council what they think.

Concerns raised at the event included;

  • Loss of Green Belt land between Sunningwell and Abingdon
  • Noise and light pollution from a Park and Ride and Lorry Park being too close to existing housing
  • ‘Rat running’ through the villages to access the A34 and Park and Ride near Lodge Hill
  • Lack of traffic modelling to inform the Park & Ride strategy and lack of evidence that it would reduce congestion on the A34

Ideas to create cycle and ride facilities at Lodge Hill were discussed as well as alternative sites for a Park and Ride at Marcham or Milton interchanges and the need for Park & Ride services to complement local bus routes.

The consultation ends 2nd April. You can respond to the consultation via this link: https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/CO_LTP4/consultationHome

Debby adds: If you miss the deadline, you can still contact your county councillor to get your opinion into the decision makers. Contact me if you need help doing that.

A420 Closure Botley to Cumnor

Here’s the official notice:  I have digital versions of the maps, so contact me if you want a copy.

Subject: FW: T2689 A420 Cumnor Bypass CLOSURE Tues 7th April 2015 – 8 to 9 weeks
Importance: High

Temporary Traffic Regulation Order – S14 Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

Temporary Road Closure – A420 Cumnor Bypass- between the A34 Botley intersection and the B4017 Wootton turn (Cumnor interchange)

In the interests of public safety it will be necessary for Oxfordshire County Council to close a short section of the road above to facilitate the rebuilding of a failed embankment and resurfacing works.

A Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) is being made to implement the temporary closure.

In two phases for approximately 8 weeks – when appropriate traffic signs indicate:

1)    Westbound will be closed for the majority of the time

2)    Eastbound side will be closed – 3 nights (8pm to 6am)

The attached diversion will operate, initially, for the westbound traffic during the first phase and then the eastbound traffic during the second phase.

The maximum duration of a TTRO on a road is 18 months, or until completion of the works, whichever is the earlier.

Notice of intention to make the Order will be published in the Oxford Times.

Access will be maintained for emergency service vehicles and also overnight access for those frontages within the closure area, subject to the progress of the works.  Please note that access routes will depend on exactly where the works vehicles are at any time and may need to be negotiated with the gang on site as necessary.

Further information regarding the works may be obtained by contacting John Beaumont, OCC Highways & Transport on 0845 310 11 11.

 

 

 

 

The night the car park lights went out in Botley

A resident contacted me to say all the lights had gone out in the car park behind Tesco. I determined to investigate and sort this out.

That car park, behind Tesco, SS Peter and Paul Church, and Barclays, off Church Way, is dark, dark, dark. It’s only lighting is overspill from street lighting, plus two spotlights on the side of West Way House (the tower over Tesco). West Way House is empty, and the owners are under no obligation to keep the lights on. So they’ve gone out, and the car park is dangerously dark.

First I contacted the management company for West Way (the shopping centre). they told me it didn’t have to do with them, but with West Way House.

I contacted the Vale Car Parks Team. They told me it didn’t have to do with them, but with the property team.

I contacted the Vale Property Officer, and pointed out that the Vale are probably at risk if something happens in the unsafe DARK car park. He agreed and said he’d seek a solution.

Happy are we that the management company of West Way House agreed to put the lights back on! This was last week some time, so the after dark experience there should be a lot better now. Or soon.

I notice Vale Tories have put some money into the budget next year for improvements in car park lighting. I hope it gets as far as Botley.

 

Air Quality Action Plan for Botley

At the full council meeting on Feb 2014, I tabled this motion, (seconded by Cllr Catherine Webber of Marcham):

Council resolves to fulfil its legal responsibility to create Air Quality Action Plans for Botley and for Marcham.

We ran out of time at that meeting, so the motion was carried forward to the next one, on 14 May 14, where I had this to say:

Botley AQMA was created in 2008.

In 2009, the official report said nitrogen oxide levels needed to be reduced by 40%. The plan was to hope that improved emissions control in new vehicles would bring air pollution to acceptable levels by 2014.

In April 2012, the Air Quality Updating & Assessment report concluded an AQMA plan was required. (It was clear at that point that hope as a strategy wasn’t enough.)

In May 2012, I asked, ‘With planned growth comes increased cars, street deterioration and air pollution. Botley is an AQMA. How will the Vale manage the impact of more development on air quality?’ I had no reply.

In July 2013, I asked the Cabinet member for Environmental Health to report on the efficacy of the Action Plan and where the public could see it. There was no plan, but the Cabinet member said he had asked officers to create one for the Oct 2013 Cabinet briefing.

In Sep 2013, I was sent a DEFRA report that said the AQAP for Botley was in draft form and would shortly go for consultation.

In late October 2013, I again asked in full council meeting how the Vale would mitigate against the anticipated air pollution brought about by the major new shopping centre where Elms Parade and West Way now stand. The Cabinet member said he would reply in writing, but I never got anything.

Here it is February May 2014, and I don’t see an Action Plan – nothing on the Vale website, nothing in my inbox.

We’re legally required to create this Air Quality Action Plan. We also have a moral responsibility to the people who live and work in Botley. Please support the motion.

This motion passed, and the Cabinet member for Environmental Health has said he’s trying his best to get it done.

Since then, officers have published an AQAP for South Oxfordshire, and I hear one for the Vale is due soon. It covers all the bad air areas in the Vale, and will be open for consultation as soon as it’s published. Any day now, I’m sure. Really.

Oxford Bus Route 4

I happened to run into the Route 4 Manager from Oxford Bus Company. He got onto the bus as I did. We got to chatting, as you do.

We talked about the problems at the corner of Lime Road and Laburnum Road (see what I wrote about that here).

We talked about their decision to discontinue the 4C service (more info here).

We talked about the friendliness and helpfulness of the drivers. I think they are both of those things, usually. Do you?

We talked about how the online timetable is unreliable for the Lime Road and Arnolds Way stops. (Try it here.)

And we talked about some roadworks planned in Oxford for Easter time. A sewer pipe replacement is planned, requiring the closure of Park End Street just past (to the east of) Frideswide Square. He wasn’t sure exactly what they’ll do, but it seems likely all route 4 buses will have to go around Oxpens Road to get to the city centre. A few bus stops will have to be temporarily closed. Inconvenience is assured.