We’re not yet convinced that the Fareham Town Access Plan is the right solution to a legitimate problem.
It must be frustrating for bus users to be sat in queues of traffic in the town’s West Street. It’s just the sort of thing that puts people off using public transport in the first place.
But banning cars between the hours of 4pm and 6pm would have some widespread implications that shouldn’t be ignored.
As the leader of Fareham Borough Council points out, we’re talking about a main road. Councillor Sean Woodward describes West Street as an ‘essential artery’ and anyone who knows Fareham will realise that’s not an exaggeration.
Motorists who currently use this road will be forced to find a new route for the two hours that its use would be restricted to just buses, taxis and bikes.
That would certainly put pressure on the new Quay Street layout and with that comes the potential for rat-runs to be created. We could see queues start to form in other parts of Fareham where there simply wasn’t a problem before.
We understand why traders in this part of the town are also concerned about the impact this scheme would have on their businesses. Anything that makes it harder for customers to access their stores will be a worry.
Considering the importance of these proposals, we are surprised that Hampshire County Council hasn’t done more to make the public aware of its intentions.
The bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme has been well-publicised. Yet this aspect of the plan has come as a surprise to many – including Mr Woodward.
It’s imperative that people are given plenty of opportunity to make their views known. It would be wrong and unfair of the council to proceed until that has been achieved.
More people do need to see public transport as a viable option if we are to free up our roads in the future. Sometimes that will mean giving buses priority over cars. But doing that here could lead to more problems rather than the promised solution.