• Gareth Davies

Ditching the Hereford Bypass was the Easy Part. April 2021

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

The difficult part is putting in its place a sustainable transport system that is in line with the climate emergency and that will significantly reduce traffic and positively impact on improved air quality and the city environment. Herefordshire Council's letter of 8 March 2021 indicates this new strategy will take the form of:

  • Developing a programme of public transport improvements including electric bus trials

  • Developing a range of active travel schemes

  • Initial stages of development of an eastern road link

Some very radical thinking is needed if the above are to have an impact on the city. Take public transport: at present it can be described as pathetic. The bus system needs complete restructuring. Electric buses are only of use if part of a radical package of measures which includes:

  • Extensive city bus priority infrastructure including bus lanes along main radial routes and responders that activate traffic lights in favour of the bus.

  • Attractive, safe and well lit bus stops and bus termini/interchanges. With real time bus information.

  • Flexibility and ease of interchange between services and other public transport modes.

  • Ticketing systems that are flexible across all operators with low prices if not free travel.

  • Active marketing of services which could include linked ticket and retail/leisure offers.

  • A car parking policy that makes it easier and cheaper to use the bus than the car.

All the above would also assist the ‘levelling up’ of transport so that those without cars, with limited ability and limited money get a fairer deal.

Hereford is notorious as the one city in Britain that does not have a bus lane. Bus operators will tell you that the biggest problem for buses (and hence attracting people onto buses) is the lack of infrastructure which will give them a time advantage over the car. Bus priority must be the fundamental starting point for any radical bus strategy.

But bus priority implementation is also a highly contentious issue. The recent vociferous criticism by motorists and residents of cycle lane introductions in Hereford appears to have put a damper on the move to address climate change by influencing transport mode changes. What chance therefore of a range of innovative active travel measures?

As regards an eastern link road, where does new road building fit into addressing climate change and zero carbon targets? What about the level of embodied emission involved in building a new road and river bridge? With the electric car revolution bringing an increase in car usage, residential Tupsley can look forward to being swamped. Try getting your car off the drive when the area is gridlocked.

Herefordshire Council has a long way to go in a very short time and above all it will need to be both bold and radical. Like Star Trek it will need ‘To boldly go where no Herefordshire Council has gone before’.

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