Concerns mixing buses with pedestrians could result in disaster
ONE of Cheltenham's leading coach operators has called for a new bus terminal.
Roger Marchant, managing director of Marchant's Coaches, voiced "grave concerns" that plans to overhaul the town's traffic system could put pedestrians' lives in danger.
Under radical proposals to shake up the way people travel through the town, Boots' corner could be transformed into a 1,000sqm shared space for pedestrians and buses – with other traffic directed away.
Leaders behind the scheme insist it will reduce congestion and bring environmental benefits by encouraging more people to use public transport.
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But Mr Marchant said the sheer volume of buses passing through the route would create a hazard for people on foot.
Instead, he said, a better option would be to move Cheltenham's main bus terminal out of the town centre.
"I've got grave concerns because of the risk to pedestrians," he said.
"About 40 buses an hour go through there. The town needs another bus terminus. Until the number of buses going through that area is reduced, it won't be safe."
Jeremy Williamson, managing director for the Cheltenham Development Taskforce, has disagreed.
He insisted there was no need to move the town's main bus station from Royal Well Road. He said under plans for North Place and Portland Street, additional bus stations would be created.
Some buses would relocate to the new one, reducing the volume of vehicles passing through the town centre.
"Daily long-distance coaches will be diverted to the proposed new dedicated facility at the North Place/Portland Street development," he said.
"Local buses need to be able to access the town centre to drop off passengers at their preferred destinations such as Marks and Spencer, Tesco and on the Promenade and access for these will be maintained."
He added that shared space for buses and pedestrians had been successful elsewhere.
He added: "The concept of the same space being used by pedestrians and buses has been in practice for several years between Primark and Tesco on the High Street and, given the low speeds of all those using the area, it appears to work."
Stagecoach, which would be one of the main users of the shared space, have given the proposals their backing.
The potential changes, which involve shaking up the town's one-way system, will be subject to a detailed consultation.
It comes as the volume of traffic flowing through Cheltenham is projected to increase by up to 55 per cent between now and 2035.