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Sunday 24 January

Transport Group Action Plan: August 2008 Update

Section 1 - Public Transport

I have reviewed with Sarah Hobbs the list of EHDC outstanding matters, which she will follow up.

1. Better bus services

The first priority remains the retention of the scheduled services we already have. The introduction of the national free travel pass has led to a noticeable increase in bus passengers on Petersfield area services, and some local residents may also be using buses instead of their cars for some journeys. Unfortunately, there appears to be an increase in late running on the longer-distance routes, possibly due to more frequent bus breakdowns.

A meeting of the local bus users’ group is being arranged for September, when further information should be available from passengers. I hope that we can advertise this meeting in the local press to encourage more users to attend and report on their experiences, so that I can write to the operators about specific delays and problems.

2. Improved transport information

I have now recorded and photographed over 60 Petersfield bus stops, and hope to do the rest by this autumn. It is becoming increasingly clear that many stops carry inaccurate or incomplete bus route details, and in some ways this is worse than no information at all. When my survey is completed I propose to discuss the situation with the local authorities and bus operators concerned, but it is very difficult to find anyone who accepts an overall responsibility for bus stop information. The database could be held by EHDC and/or HCC.

If more people are to be encouraged to use public transport it becomes increasingly important to have accurate information available on bus stops and elsewhere. South West Trains no longer supply copies of their complete timetable book to local stations, thus making it more difficult for passengers to find out about services to places such as Southampton, Salisbury or Basingstoke.

3. Improved transport co-ordination

The South West Trains hourly Waterlooville to Petersfield Rail-Link bus service introduced from 10th December is still lightly loaded, especially in off-peak periods. I am still awaiting a reply from SWT to my letter of 15th February (urged on 19th April) which suggested a number of improvements to the service publicity and a possible extension of off-peak journeys to The Square to improve loadings and provide extra bus links to Clanfield and Waterlooville. The completely inaccurate on-train announcements “Change at Petersfield for the rail/bus link to Stretton” have still not been corrected on some units.

South West Trains have confirmed that they will provide improved lighting on the station forecourt, especially at the bus stops, and Network Rail have cleared up rubbish from the area adjacent to the footway between the up platform and Station Road. As the Petersfield Station level crossing is closed to road traffic for long periods (up to three minutes before the departure time of trains towards London), there are more pedestrians using the station footbridge, so I will urge Network Rail again to add handrails and step markings to make the footbridge safer.

4. Public transport to key facilities

It appears that no progress will be made with discussions about a possible regular bus link between Petersfield and the Portsmouth hospitals for hospital outpatients and visitors before the HCC Town Access Plan is started.

5. Accessible public transport

I will continue to urge the operators and the County Councils to introduce more fully accessible low floor buses in advance of the statutory deadline for all buses to be low floor. I understand that EHDC are trying to ensure that at least some Petersfield taxis are wheelchair-accessible.

Section 2 - Roads and Traffic

6. Car parks and street parking

I urged the District Council to take over from HCC responsibility for on-street parking control, which would “decriminalise” parking and allow them to introduce residential parking schemes and additional traffic warden hours. In response, the Leader of the District Council explained in a letter dated 20th March their concern about the cost of taking over “Decriminalized Parking Enforcement”, but said that the possibility was being discussed with neighbouring authorities. In reply I suggested that a limited increase in net costs might well be justified if it brought significant benefits to ratepayers, and referred to changes in legislation and the possibility of a setting-up grant from HCC. I have heard no more since then.

Section 3 - Roads and Pavements

7. Improved pedestrian and cycling routes

Although major expenditure may have to wait until after 2009 when the HCC Town Access Plan is completed, I still do not think it acceptable that nothing should be done in the short term to repair broken paving slabs, damaged signs and the increasingly “invisible” courtesy crossings. Since the meeting with Alan Todd from the local HCC Highways Department on 22nd May some broken paving slabs have been replaced by temporary “tarmac” surfaces, but nothing has been done to make the pedestrian crossing places more visible.

8. Vehicle delivery times

Action to restrict vehicle delivery times or a ban on heavy lorries seems unlikely before the introduction of a Town Access Plan (see 9 below).

9. Pedestrianisation experiment

At the meeting on 8th February, Ruth Olczyk and Ben Clifton said that the County Council Highways Department hoped to start the preparation of a Petersfield Town Access Plan from April 2009, although implementation of an agreed plan would depend on the availability of funds.

Apart from the minor measures referred to in 7 above and improved control of car parking if EHDC agree to take over responsibility (see 6 above), I fear that, despite our 2006 consultation results, Petersfield will remain for some more years yet as an attractive small town where pedestrians are disadvantaged and where parked and moving vehicles discourage crossing the road and “browsing” in the shops.

Tony Shaw 6/8/08