Stoke-on-Trent City Council (SoTCC) is seeking £16 million of National Bus Strategy for England funding towards roadbuilding, its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) has revealed.
The ask is grouped with proposed bus priority measures. It accounts for over a quarter of the NBS money that SoTCC is seeking for priority. The local authority wants to put the sum towards a ‘missing link’ of the Potteries Way ring road in Hanley, a project that it has repeatedly tried to progress and which has hitherto been stymied by a lack of finance.
SoTCC says that completion of the ring road would improve bus journey times by diverting through traffic away from the centre of Hanley. Bus priority measures would be provided at junctions with the ring road extension, although where it would meet Waterloo Road represents the expansion of an existing junction.
The BSIP thus raises the possibility of adding “dedicated bus priority measures” on the adjacent section of Waterloo Road to mitigate what operator First Potteries has already identified as “high levels of general traffic that [have] an impact on bus journey times.”
It is unlikely that the proposed section of ring road will be used by buses, leading one industry figure familiar with public transport in North Staffordshire to describe the bid for NBS funding for its construction as “a very cynical policy with tenuous justification.”
The National Bus Strategy says that priority measures developed through BSIPs must “be planned to complement cycling and walking schemes,” and that traffic management should be considered when drawing up priority proposals.
However, there is no acknowledgement that the building of roads for all traffic can form part of bus network improvement. Instead, the Strategy notes that better bus services can be delivered via measures including priority schemes much more quickly than roads can be built.