Sunday 24 August 2014

Northampton Bus Station - STILL NOT SORTED

Following our March reports about the traffic gridlock in Northampton when the new bus station opened, here's an update from a local bus user. It doesn't sound good!

Our new bus station continues to prove the inadequacies of the design, location and layout. Indeed, much of the time it only works because of the goodwill of drivers. It is particularly annoying when buses are unable to access stands and therefore passengers are held captive on the buses until the stand becomes free – frustrating when you sit and watch your next bus leave the bus station without you because you couldn’t alight from your arriving service.

 Gridlock when the new bus station opened in March 2014
Since the opening chaos the town has been gridlocked again when a set of traffic lights failed.  Enforcement by police, wardens and Council Officials that was in place following the opening chaos has largely stopped, so things have deteriorated.

There is a lack of any layover provision and the roads around the area are often littered with buses. There is no real provision for visiting coaches now that Victoria Street is the National Express stop and usually well occupied with Stagecoach buses on layover or awaiting crew changes.

Meridian Bus are withdrawing their service 29 to Gladstone Road and quote the bus station as the principal cause for their decision. They say that delays caused by accessing and leaving the bus station mean the service cannot operate to the registered timetable without an additional bus in the cycle which would then make it uneconomic.

The footpaths to access the bus station from Drapery and the town centre still have temporary crowd control barriers and the footpaths are not wide enough to accommodate the pedestrian movements. It is difficult to pass an approaching pedestrian. Intending passengers waiting at stops on Drapery – particularly for the busy service 9/9A – obstruct movement along the street.

Buses still have to wait for stands to become free and this sometimes means buses obstructing the main road. Drivers unable to access their correct stand sometimes use nearby ones and it is easy to miss your bus as this is not reflected in the bus station displays.

Today, Thursday 21 August 2014, I was waiting for a Kingsthorpe service and the service 17 bus was waiting behind a service 8 on the run through road for stands to become free. He waited and waited and.. eventually driving through the bus station to stop on a roadside stop to unload. I boarded at this point, not wishing to miss my bus. After a short while the driver lapped the bus station and re-entered only to find all the stands still occupied and he was now behind the service 16 that should have been following him. We waited and waited and the stand eventually became free and the service 16 bus pulled onto it! We again drove through and stopped on the roadside stop whilst the driver went off to find the supervisor. He returned and, yes you’ve guessed it, we lapped the bus station and re-entered it for a third time and managed to access the stand. We left considerably late and out of sequence. How can the public be expected to have any confidence in using public transport when this sort of the situation happens and how can the bus companies be expected to operate an efficient service?   

March reports here and here

Focus Comment    

This a serious situation and requires immediate attention by those responsible and those that should be enforcing the traffic regulations. If you are being inconvenienced in Northampton in a similar way to the correspondent above please let us know and we will consider publishing your comments. If you have photos illustrating the problems please send them to us.