Green groups support Cheltenham town centre traffic changes
CREATING a bus-only route through the centre of Cheltenham will help to secure the 'commercial well-being of the town'.
This is the view of a bus company chief who backs plans for transforming the town's transport system.
Environmental groups also back the proposals to create a 1,000sqm 'shared space' at Boots' corner – only open to pedestrians and buses.
It is hoped the scheme, which will also involve shaking up the town's one-way system in a number of places, will encourage more people to walk, cycle or use public transport.
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Ian Manning, managing director of bus company Stagecoach West, said: "We welcome projects which prioritise the role of the bus in urban centres.
"With 67 per cent of all passenger transport journeys being made by bus, our ability to successfully penetrate and pass through central Cheltenham without unacceptable levels of delay is vital to the commercial well-being of the town centre.
"It will in itself assist regeneration as we continue the process of developing organic passenger growth, demonstrated in the improvements we have made in the last few years."
The plans have also been well-received by Cheltenham Connect, which was founded in 2009 to strengthen the residential and business community in the south of the town. One of its four main action groups is low carbon initiative Go Green.
Chairwoman Wendy Ellyatt said: "Cheltenham Connect supports really looking at how we can promote sustainable transport in Cheltenham, longer term. I think it is right to take a longer term view, in terms of how we can become a leading light of how large towns can work towards much more sustainable living.
"We think it is a really good thing that we start looking at alternative modes of transport. Cheltenham is small enough that you can often walk from one point to another.
"The only thing we need to be careful of is that we don't want to put off visitors to the town."
On the proposed 'shared space' at Boots' corner, she added: "When you open up places like that as shared space it tends to create a more pleasant space. It's got to be a good thing."
Cheltenham Development Task Force managing director
Jeremy Williamson said transport needed to be "more efficient and more effective."
He said: "We are not trying to drive motorists off the road. What we are trying to do is to help people get to where they need to go in the most sustainable and efficient way possible."