Probe into problems on multi-million pound bus priority route

A3 Cowplain Bus corridor.''Bus stop faces the wrong way

A3 Cowplain Bus corridor.''Bus stop faces the wrong way

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BACK-to-front bus stops and confusing cyclepath signs are just some of the problems that have been highlighted on a £35m bus scheme.

The A3 Bus Priority Corridor links Gunwharf Quays to Clanfield in Waterlooville by the number 41 bus.

Since it was completed in 2008, Hampshire County Councillor David Keast has raised a series of concerns – and he’s worried that it is not as popular as it should be.

Hampshire County Council denies this.

Cllr Keast, who represents Cowplain and Hart Plain, said: ‘There have been some very good benefits to this scheme. The new drainage system between Waterlooville and Cowplain has solved the flooding problem.

‘The lighting and enhancement of street furniture and bus stops is also very good.

‘However the cost seems to outweigh the benefits.’

Cllr Keast said that one of the bus stops is back to front.

‘Passengers are hidden from the bus and the bus is hidden from the passengers,’ he said. ‘The people using the 41 service are in the main passengers that have been using it for years. Very little new business has been attracted to the services.’

Cllr Keast raised his concerns at the council’s Environment and Transport scrutiny meeting.

A working party has been set up to look in detail at the issues he has raised but the council insists the bus corridor has been a success.

The new Fareham to Gosport bus transit scheme is modelled on it.

Passenger numbers on the service have increased by only 4.7 per cent in almost four years.

But the council said its stated aim of an 18 per cent increase refers to the hoped-for rise over the scheme’s lifetime.

In a statement Councillor Mel Kendal, who is in charge of transport and environment said: ‘The vision for this major project started in the 1990s with the A3 corridor being part of the South Hampshire Rapid Transit network of public transport improvements.

‘Designed to offer a genuine alternative to the car, the scheme was developed to reduce the impact of an expected 40 per cent increase in traffic over 30 years in one of the busiest areas in South Hampshire.’

He said the scheme represents good value for money as it has enabled significant improvements along the route including drainage, street lighting and major environmental enhancements to Waterlooville town centre.

He said more people were expected to switch from cars to buses in the future.

A3 BUS CORRIDOR FAILINGS

HAMPSHIRE County Councillor David Keast has made a list of problems with the A3 Bus Corridor which runs along London Road, Waterlooville:

• Computerised information boards not working.

• A bus stop next to traffic islands near Keydell Avenue and Kendal Close.

• Some buses running without electronic gateway keys which change red lights in their favour.

• Outside the Co-op in Cowplain the car park exits on to a set of traffic lights making it dangerous.

• Pedestrian crossing on the corner of Durley Avenue incorrectly positioned across London Road causing confusion.

• In one stretch of road there is a sign for pedestrians and cyclists to share the pavement next to a sign to say cyclists should use the road – at least three examples.

• General ambiguous signage.

• One cycle lane is only 25ft long, behind a bus stop.

• At peak times traffic backs up to the Spotted Cow pub and Queens Inclosure in the opposite direction meaning cars can’t exit right from Park Lane.

• Some pedestrian crossings do not have audio signals so the partially-sighted are frightened to use them.

• Bus stops are back to front meaning passengers are hidden from the bus drivers when they pull up. Bus drivers have been known to drive off because they haven’t seen anyone waiting.

• Traffic backs up at the Padnell Road junction because traffic lights are set so only three vehicles can turn right.

SECRECY OVER PASSENGER NUMBERS

HAMPSHIRE County Council refused to give The News the figures for how many people are using the service.

The council said the data belongs to First Bus, which runs the service, and is not theirs to give out. It would only say that the number of passengers had increased by 4.7 per cent since the route began. First Bus claims the figures are commercially sensitive.

Councillor David Keast said: ‘I don’t know why it can’t just give The News the figures.

‘It tends to make one think the original figures were low and the increases are the same.’

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