Better bus services at heart of draft Transport Strategy

Better buses are at the heart of Canterbury City Council’s draft Canterbury District Transport Strategy.

The council’s Cabinet will be asked for permission to consult on the strategy, which works together with and complements the draft Local Plan, at its meeting on Monday 11 March.

The draft Transport Strategy takes on board the public’s feedback from the last consultation in October where there were strong objections to:

  • the Canterbury Circulation Plan which would have led to the creation of zones in the city and added to the length of people’s car journeys across the city
  • the construction of an Eastern Movement Corridor or bypass
  • the use of Rough Common Road as part of an outer city ring road

Instead, the strategy argues the council should work with others to make buses the first transport choice for as many people as possible by making them a convenient, affordable and reliable alternative to the car.

Improvements to bus services will be delivered alongside improvements to the railway, cycle and walking routes.

Cabinet Member for Tourism, Movement and Rural Development, Cllr Alex Ricketts, said: “We heard what the public had to say about the last transport strategy loud and clear so we knew we had to come up with a new approach to cutting the queues and helping people move around the district in a far more efficient, sustainable and healthy way.

“The approach we are suggesting is fully in line with national, regional and emerging policy from Kent County Council which is in charge of transport across the county.

“But it’s not without its challenges, not least because life is rapidly changing around us and we need to be ready to adapt to new ideas and new technology.

“We’re really excited about this plan and want people to have their say during the 12-week consultation.”

The improvements will be set out into the first five years of the strategy (short term), five to 10 years (the medium term) and the 10 to 15 years (the longer term).

Short-term measures could include:

  • more buses including to and from our villages and neighbouring towns
  • hopper bus services in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable
  • demand-responsive bus services
  • fare or service subsidies
  • zero-emission buses
  • redistribution of parking spaces from city centre to Park & Ride sites
  • cycling and walking improvements including a cycle hire scheme

Medium-term measures could include

  • fast bus links from large development such as Mountfield Park and Merton Park
  • the reallocation of road space for bus and cycle lanes
  • use of bus gates and bus priority at traffic lights

The strategy also outlines a big boost to park and ride services and the expansion of electric vehicle charging points.

When it comes to boosting rail travel, the strategy outlines a range of possible measures including:

  • new passenger access to the north of Canterbury West station along with platform lengthening to accommodate 12-carriage trains
  • new passenger access to the west of Canterbury East station
  • platform lengthening at Sturry station to enable trains to stop clear of the level crossing along with an extra ticket machine on the London-bound platform to stop people having to cross the line to buy a ticket
  • step-free access at Whitstable station

There was a great deal of support for the Local Cycling and Walking Implementation Plan during the last consultation and the strategy says this work should get under way.

The road improvements outlined include those already agreed such as the new junction on the A2 at Bridge, the Sturry relief road and the Wincheap gyratory system.

New schemes include:

  • a new coastbound slip road at Wincheap or Merton Park
  • a new slip road at Harbledown
  • improvements to Rough Common Road which will not be part of an outer ring road

The plans for Whitstable include:

  • a park and bus site – a car park on the A2990 Thanet Way linked to a bus service into town with a pay-on-the-bus model
  • new north-facing slip roads on the A299 at Chestfield
  • completion of the Crab and Winkle cycle route to provide a direct link to Whitstable Harbour
  • an extended residents’ parking scheme to reduce pressure on on-street parking and encourage use of the park and bus scheme
  • expansion of a car club and cycle hire schemes to the coast

According to the draft strategy, Herne Bay will could benefit from:

  • public realm improvements
  • extension of the pedestrian zone hours
  • extension of a car club and cycle hire schemes
  • improved walking and cycling links between the King’s Hall, Bandstand and Herne Bay Pier

The strategy hopes those living in the district’s villages will welcome:

  • more buses including evenings and weekends and on-demand buses
  • improvements to the infrastructure around bus travel like better shelters, lighting and paths
  • Electric vehicle charging at village halls

The Cabinet will make its decision on whether to carry out the 12-week consultation during a special meeting at 7pm on Monday 11 March at the Guildhall in St Peter’s Place, Canterbury.

Published: 1 March 2024

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