Industrial action update from Oxford Bus

We have just received the following statement from the managing director of Oxford Bus Company.

I am writing to update you on the dispute with Unite the Union over Christmas and New Year working and pay negotiations that led to the strike action taken on 2 and 6 March 2017.

Constructive talks have been taking place since the second day of action and I am pleased to advise you that the company has made an offer to Unite that the majority of its members have accepted. This means that the dispute has now been resolved and there should be no further disruption to our services as a result of strike action.

This has been a very difficult time for the company and I very much regret any inconvenience this dispute has caused. I would also like to thank you for your patience whilst a resolution was sought. We can now get back to working together to deliver the high quality bus services that we all strive to achieve on a daily basis.

Planned strike action by bus drivers on Thursday

Oxford Bus Company has posted up a list of services that may be affected:

We will work as hard as we can to provide the following services on the planned strike days:

  • the airline Heathrow and Gatwick
  • cityX3
  • city13
  • city4/4A/4B/4C
  • city6
  • city35
  • park&ride300
  • park&ride400
  • BROOKESbusU1
  • BROOKESbusU5
  • School services city3B, city6C and city35A

It is unlikely that the following services will run and so we recommend you make alternative arrangements:

  • city2/2A/2B/2C/2D
  • city3/3A
  • city4B (between Oxford City and Abingdon)
  • city5
  • city8/9
  • cityX13
  • the airline Birmingham
  • X90 London
  • BROOKESbusU4
  • park & ride 500

For further information including whether or not tickets are transferrable to services run by other operators, please visit the Oxford Bus website at:

https://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/strike/

 

Science Transit Bus route update

Following intervention from Headington Lib Dem councillors, the following communication has been received from the University.

After meeting the County and discussion with UNO Bus Ltd we have agreed to maintain the service on the current routing for the time being and not to implement a diversion.

We will continue to review the situation and if it does transpire that congestion causes problems with reliability we will again re-examine.  However, a diversion by Lime Walk is clearly in no-one’s interest whilst the Heat Pipe works are in operation.

I will contact you in advance if this situation changes and would be happy to meet in due course

Ruth says,

This is a welcome move by the University at a time when many residents are beset by roadworks, parking displacement, and temporary road closures.

Change of route for Science Transit shuttle bus during Roosevelt Drive works

We have been copied into the following message to Highfield Residents’ Association by the University of Oxford. We are very concerned about this proposed change of route which will further inconvenience Highfield residents at what will already be a highly stressful time, and set a precedent for minibuses through residential roads in the area.

Since 18 July 2016 the Science Transit Shuttle has provided a rapid and reliable connection every weekday between the Science Area and Old Road Campus for the University’s researchers, technicians and post-graduates.  The ST2 Old Road Campus route was implemented by the University in response to the inadequate public transport connections and to reduce the number of taxi and private car trips between these key sites for research and innovation in the City.  Due to the traffic congestion associated with Oxfordshire County Council’s Access to Headington works at the Old Road/Roosevelt Drive junction, the ST2 service has been experiencing serious delays, adversely impacting on the reliability and journey times.  Consequently the ST2 service will be diverted from the current route on Old Road/Warneford Lane and instead circulate via Lime Walk / Stapleton Road / London Road from 31st October 2016 until such time as reliable journey times return on Old Road/ Warneford Lane.  The private service is using 16 seater minibuses running every 30 minutes between 7am and 7pm.  Queries about the service should be directed to info@sciencetransitshuttle.co.uk.

We have contacted the University expressing our concerns. More to follow.

Action on language school students

We received a complaint that huge numbers of language school students with red bags were waiting for buses at the Latimer Road stop and have investigated further. The school in question appears to be Academia Britannica and we have contacted the London-based organisation Find Digs to express our concern.

They reply:

These students did indeed study with us. 

These groups are part of an Italian Government sponsored scheme to study and visit the UK, we at Find Digs provide the college and accommodation for them. We further aid them with operations organising such things as excursions, airport transfers and buying travel cards for them so as to make their entry on to the bus as smooth as possible. However the groups with their own leaders take the students on afternoon excursions. 

In all honesty this is the first year we have had these groups in Oxford as they normally stay in London. Looking at the photo you have sent I can see that the group is too large for bus stop and is something we need to address. 

Our centre has closed now but we will endeavour to action this for next summer. The most obvious thing I can suggest at this stage is that we will split the group into smaller groups and they will stagger their departure time into Oxford which should minimise the impact on local residents. 

If you wish to discuss this further then please do not hesitate to contact me.

We have given them advice on how to join the Language Schools Forum which can assist such organisations with advice on how to buy pre-paid tickets, where to get maps of Oxford, how to stay safe in Oxford etc. We shall monitor the situation again next year as it appears they will be using Dorset House again.

Enquiries about language school students

We’ve followed up concerns about impact on bus travel relating to language school students. Here is a response from the EF International Language Centre. We are contacting EF Language Travel too. The complaints were around packing of bus stops and of language students not having bus passes so slowing boarding time for residents.

Thanks for sharing concerns of local residents about disruption caused by language students.  We appreciate that this can be a challenge for people going about their daily lives during the busy summer months and do work with the local bus companies to do what we can do ease the situation.  I am sorry that some of your constituents are unhappy but would like to stress that whilst at times something of a nuisance, language students are generally well-behaved and do not present a threat.  

I am the Director for EF International Language Centre, which is a school for older students running courses year round.  Our students are aged 16+ and generally travel as individuals.  We do not have a lot of large group activities or movement around the city, and looking at the details of times and locations from the complaints you have received, these are certainly not activities which we have been involved with.

However our sister company, EF Language Travel, does have more group focused operations in Oxford through the summer vacation period, in particular running courses at Oxford Brookes campus in Gipsy Lane.  I will forward the complaints you have received to my counterparts there and ask them to consider ways which issues can be avoided as much as possible.

We are renting a small number of rooms at Dorset House, as noted in one email.  Our students arrived there last Sunday 10th July and will be there just for a few weeks.  Whilst there are restrictions on use during term time, student accommodation like Dorset House is available to any educational organisation during university vacations.  I believe there are a number of schools renting accommodation there but I will also pass these concerns to the manager in order that she can discuss with all schools. 

 

 

Consultation: pedestrianisation of Queen Street

There is a County Council consultation setting out proposals for pedestrianizing Queen Street. Here is their information below.

Summary

  • Oxfordshire County Council proposes to improve Queen Street in central Oxford by prohibiting buses, taxis and private hire vehicles from using it. This would in effect make the street largely ‘pedestrianised’ – similar to Cornmarket.  
  • No changes are proposed to access for cyclists and delivery vehicles, which would continue to be permitted between 6pm and 10am.    
  • Between New Road and New Inn Hall Street (i.e. through Bonn Square), cycling will continue to be permitted 24 hours a day, as now.

Why pedestrianise Queen Street

Queen Street forms part of one of the main east-west routes across the city centre, and pedestrian and cycle numbers are expected to increase significantly in future as a result of development in the city’s West End and elsewhere across Oxford

It is vital that strong pedestrian and cycle links are maintained and encouraged, and improvements to the pedestrian experience are made, to ensure a well-connected and joined up city centre that will continue to thrive

The pedestrianisation of Queen Street is part of the county council’s Local Transport Plan and Oxford City Council’s development plan for the West End, the West End Area Action Plan. It is an important element of wider improvements to the public realm in the city centre, such as the recent transformation of Frideswide Square

It is proposed that the changes required to pedestrianise Queen Street are made by the time the new Westgate centre opens in autumn 2017

This is because major changes to bus routes and stops will be required when the new Westgate centre opens in any event. Co-ordinating these changes with the Queen Street proposals will minimise disruption and will also mean Queen Street will be better able to cope with the increased numbers of pedestrians and cyclists going to and from the enlarged Westgate centre once it opens

This proposal is not part of the Westgate development, but Oxfordshire County Council is working closely with the Westgate Oxford Alliance (the owners of the Westgate centre) to plan this project

Proposed changes

The project includes a package of measures to provide alternative arrangements for buses, taxis, and private hire including:

  • New bus routes around the city centre to allow buses to avoid Queen Street and serve the expanded Westgate centre
  • A new bus turnaround at the Worcester Street/New Road junction, including new zebra crossing facilities on New Road, Worcester Street and Park End Street
  • Changes to bus stop locations, including removal of the bus stop in Bonn Square
  • Changes to the pick and set down points for many bus services
  • Relocation of loading bays on certain streets
  • Relocation of disabled parking bays on certain streets
  • Relocation of taxi rank at Carfax

Project costs and funding

It is estimated that the infrastructure required to close Queen Street will cost around £965,000. This includes some major works to create the turnaround at the Worcester Street/New Road junction, provision of new bus stops and shelters, and changes to pavements

At this stage the project is not fully funded; funding sources are to be confirmed following further design work to finalise the proposals, including consideration of the feedback from this consultation.

This consultation

This consultation will run from 9th May to 6th June. Your views are invited on all aspects of the proposals.

Future consultation on Traffic Regulation Orders

Some of the proposals require amendments to existing Traffic Regulation Orders. These will be advertised separately later in the summer, as part of the formal consultation on the scheme

Responses to this consultation will be used to further refine the scheme in advance of that formal consultation

Project timetable (subject to consultation and funding)

Initial consultation                                     May/June 2016

Consultation on TRO amendments          Summer 2016

Detailed design commences                    Autumn 2016

Construction period                                  April – Sept 2017

Westgate opens and changes come into effect   October 2017

Details of all of the proposals are available at https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/Queen_Street_Pedestrianisation/consultationHome.

Paper copies are available on request.

contact details are below.

Oxfordshire County Council

Speedwell Street

OX1 1NE

Or e-mail them at:

The deadline for comments is: Monday 6th June 2016

Telephone: 01865 792422

LTS.Team@oxfordshire.gov.uk

 

Bus route change during night-time roadworks

Night closures are planned for Lyndworth Mews and Lyndworth Close (no. 31 to end), and of Stowood Close to the end of Northfield Rd, from 27 April to the 12th May

Please note the changes to Oxford Bus services listed below: (wording taken from their update)

London Road Overnight Resurfacing

We have been advised that London Road will be closed for resurfacing between Headington and Green Road Roundabout overnight between 1900 and 0600 from 27th April for 4 nights and from 6th May for 2 nights.

This will involve diversions for our local services city8/9, park&ride400 and BROOKESbus U1 as well as airline and X90 coaches.

Our services will divert outbound from Headington lights, right into Windmill Road, The Slade, left at the Corner House, and left onto Eastern Bypass to Green Road to resume normal route. Inbound is a reverse of this diversion.

As a result, stops between Headington and Green Road will not be served during this diversion.

As an alternative, all services that normally pick up at the shops opposite the Post Office will pick up at the first stop on Windmill Road (stop HS3) . Oxford-bound, X90 and airline OXF will also provide a temporary drop-off point at the Headington Shops Stop HS2 .

We apologise for any inconvenience caused, and thank you for your patience during these works. We strongly urge that you allow plenty of extra time for your journey, as delays are likely. Please keep checking our Facebook and Twitter pages for further updates.

Response to Connecting Oxfordshire

Headington LibDem councillors sent in the following comments to the County Council in response to LTP4/Oxford Transport Strategy

 

  1. We welcome these documents as they provide useful baseline information, and we believe that the proposals are generally well-considered and innovative, although we find it difficult to make comments on some of the ideas as we do not feel we have enough information on which to give a view.

 

  1. We look forward to the publication of proposals and options in respect of improvements to the A34 and to the public consultation later in the year.

 

  1. We believe that any work undertaken by the County Council on the detail of the projects within this scheme should be informed by consultation with Parish Councils, Neighbourhood Forums and local councillors in the area. The emerging Headington Neighbourhood Plan is likely to include transport-related proposals and projects requested by the local community after wide local consultation, and a continuing good working relationship between all parties is of benefit to all.

 

  1. We note that many of the projects listed in the Science Transit Strategy have no funding identified at this stage. The number of jobs in Headington has grown substantially in recent years and will continue to do so, particularly at university and hospital sites, and this, coupled with the lack of affordable and keyworker housing in the local area, has given rise to concerns about the volume and speed of through traffic, congestion and air pollution, and increased calls for more cycling facilities and connecting routes.

 

 

Strategic Environmental Assessment

 

  1. We believe that insufficient weighting has been given to issues arising from the strategic environmental assessment: Appendix C – effects on human health. Specifically, the following issues require further consideration and/or resolution.

 

  1. We note (p3-1) that the Association for Directors of Public Health recommends that 10% of transport budgets is committed to walking and cycling. We cannot find evidence in the proposals to show that this notional figure will be met by projects set out in the OTS.

 

  1. Section 2.4 refers to the need for a road safety strategy within and beyond the county. There is also reference to the need for programmes of safety measures within the plan. The science transit strategy in section 3.7 suggests that technology and data innovation should be embraced, and we suggest that this should be extended to unlocking accident and near miss data too.

 

 

  1. Accident numbers at junctions have been highlighted, and we support further research on the most effective way to mitigate accidents and near misses particularly at junctions of “A” roads with residential roads in Oxford City. We believe that a transport safety advice team should be allocated a budget within LTP4 to research best practice and give advice and sign off to project managers on road safety-related matters.

 

  1. We believe that insufficient weight has been given to the reduction of emissions, particularly in areas where there is a higher proportion of elderly residents and congestion is high, and that improvements in air quality should have a higher policy priority. (Section 2.9 Effect on the elderly). Overall air quality targets should meet those set out in district council air quality plans.

 

  1. Promotion of urban tree planting to improve air quality should be a key objective rather than something that may be addressed at project level. We suggest that the County identifies the species of trees that are suitable in urban areas across the city where congestion is worst.

 

 

B4955

 

  1. We note on p9, vol 2 section (i) that

Congestion has a serious impact on public transport within the Eastern Arc, making journeys on the orbital routes longer and less reliable (notably those which use the B4955)

 

  1. Given that this is a very congested route, and that the number of vehicle journeys within the Eastern Arc are high, it follows that Bus Rapid Transit line 3 would be high priority.  However the Science Transit Strategy document sets out the project for full electrification of BRT line 3 as “aspirational” rather than “proposed” with an implementation date of 2026-30 (which is odd as the “proposed” project to reopen the Cowley branch for passenger trains by Chiltern Railways with an implementation date of 2019-24 is described as intersecting BRT line 3). We suggest that the status of Bus Rapid Transit line 3 should be changed to “proposed” although we don’t have enough information yet to form a judgment on whether BRT lines are workable.

 

  1. We also note that the need for “a timed access restriction (e.g. bus gate or road user charging point) on Hollow Way” has been identified. It seems likely to us that this will displace some vehicle traffic on journeys from Cowley through to major employment destinations and schools in Headington. More vehicles may use Divinity Road and Southfield Road. Alternatively, they may use the eastern bypass, prefer not to queue up the Slade, and instead rat run through Headington Quarry Village which is a Conservation Area.

 

  1. We suggest that consideration is given to restricting vehicular access through Quarry as a through route to Headington from the bypass, and that other commonly used rat runs are identified and analysed to identify measures to reduce the volume and speed of through traffic in residential roads, e.g. in Old Headington Village from the Green Road roundabout to Northway.

 

District centres

 

  1. We recognise the difficulties in resolving tensions below:
  • The need to ensure a quality of place in district centres on the radial routes (p11)
  • The need for high quality BRT waiting facilities (p12)
  • Minimising conflict between those waiting at bus stops and other road users by allocating sufficient shelter capacity (p13)
  • BRT stops being inset from the main carriageway (p15)
  • Transit hubs at district centres would maintain safe walking and cycle access by keeping people segregated from public transport and vehicle movements.

 

  1. It is difficult to visualise how and where the above could happen in Headington District Centre, given existing highway widths. Would the County Council consider ‘buying back’ some of the privately owned frontage in front of the shops on London Road and land in Windmill Road and Headley Way?

 

  1. We agree wholeheartedly with the statement on p22 of OTS vol 2 (i) which says: “Public realm improvements should be integrated into multi-modal access improvements in the centres of Cowley and Headington, to improve pedestrian footfall, promote local shopping and stimulate local regeneration.

 

Buses

 

  1. We currently see little in the OTS that will reduce the overall numbers of buses travelling through Headington. Is it possible to quantify the reduction in local buses that would follow from the introduction of BRT route 1?

 

  1. We are concerned about the amount of disruption that may occur during construction on major routes where rapid bus transit may be introduced. The A420 London Road is currently being re-built, but electrification is not part of the spec. Does this mean it will have to be dug up again? How long would this take? And what negative impact would this have on local traders?

 

  1. We feel that the evidence for a bus transit tunnel would be strongest between the Eastern by-pass and the JR hospital rather than in the City Centre, but we believe that such a proposal would be far too costly unless a major funding source can be identified.

 

  1. We believe there is scope to offer some bus services to and from London and the airports directly from Thornhill Park and Ride, rather than from the City Centre, and there is space there for a bus ‘laying off point’.

 

  1. We have reservations about some of the BRT routes which have been referred to by officers as ‘conceptual’, including the route across the Lye Valley, and require firmed up proposals so that we can make informed comments.

 

 

Motorists

 

  1. If CPZs are introduced across the City, there would be issues relating to the parking of commercial vehicles – is there a plan for how to deal with this?

 

  1. Given that proposals refer to an increased need for taxi use, some consideration should be given to identifying areas for taxi and minicab drivers waiting for work outside the city centre

 

  1. Short stay parking is at a minimum in Headington as our traders constantly remind us. A review of RPZs in the Headington area is long overdue.

 

  1. The proposition to build above Headington Car Park was investigated fully and discounted from Oxford City Council’s Sites and Housing Plan 2011-2026 after widespread consultation.

 

  1. Has the County Council investigated whether capacity has been reached at stakeholder workplaces e.g. BMW, all of Brookes campuses, or is there spare capacity for use by, for example, commercial vehicles? Could the County Council purchase access to excess spaces and derive income from these?

 

  1. Workplace parking levies can penalise low paid workers if passed onto employees by the employer. Some employees commute to work by car because of caring responsibilities or because the time needed to take alternative forms of transport is prohibitive- does the County have a view on what is acceptable travel to work time? More detail is needed around this proposal before we can comment further.

 

  1. We would welcome more measures to slow speeding vehicles in urban residential areas, this may encourage folk to use other means of transport.

 

  1. To reduce congestion round the hospitals, a link from the A40 direct into the JR should be considered.

 

  1. We would support a feasibility study to determine whether a system at Thornhill Park and Ride could be offered whereby hospital staff and patients could enter a code or swipe a card on entry to gain access to parking places which may be subsidized by OUHT and/or the County Council.

 

  1. We would support further research and cost-benefit analysis of road user charging to inform further thinking.

 

 

Cycling

 

  1. We believe that insufficient consideration has been given to the promotion of cycling and walking as pastimes, rather than as modes of travel to work. Quiet routes are well-used and more could be developed.

 

  1. The cycling routes outlined in the Connecting Oxfordshire document show that two cycle super routes stop at different points as they join the A420 London Road. We would support consistently signed and joined up cycle routes, particularly to and from schools and major employment sites. Cycling routes should be segregated wherever possible.

 

  1. Innovative improvements to cycle routes and signage should be piloted in areas where cycling is a popular means of transport both to work and as a pastime. The ‘safety in numbers’ principle is best tested here, and improvements could then be rolled out to other areas of the City

 

  1. Cycle super routes should be prioritised in areas with high growth in employment and/or housing. Purchase of land by the County Council to ensure that these routes meet the required standard should be considered.

 

  1. There is a demonstrated need for better cycling connections between Cowley and Headington which is not sufficiently addressed in these proposals.

 

  1. We believe that pre-signals for cyclists at traffic signal junctions would be well worth considering as these might reduce the risk of accidents at junctions.

 

  1. The routing of cycle tracks around bus stops and bus shelters needs further consideration for safety reasons. This is a frequently reported concern.

 

  1. We urge the County Council to encourage and work with hospital trusts and the universities to provide better routes and signage for cyclists on their sites.

 

  1. More work can usefully be carried out to educate cyclists, in the workplace and school, and outside. There is scope for wider stakeholder and community involvement in cycling education projects. The County could also work with stakeholders to provide training for drivers of motorized scooters.

 

  1. We fully support a city-wide cycle scheme e.g. Oxonbikes as we believe the Headington scheme has been popular, especially by those travelling to work.

 

Pedestrians

 

  1. We do not think that enough is done within the OTS to promote pedestrian transport. We would welcome a feasibility study or project to introduce puffin crossings more widely. These have sensors that detect pedestrians and also control traffic lights. The balance between traffic and pedestrians in residential areas and shopping areas should be more heavily weighted towards pedestrians in order to “ensure a quality of place” (see 15 above).

 

  1. There are desire lines for pedestrian crossings which merit further consideration, e.g. across the A420 London Road at the Osler Road junction, outside the Bury Knowle Health Centre, and across the A40 dual carriageway connecting the Risinghurst and Barton communities.

 

  1. We should like to see more projects to upgrade footpaths, which would encourage more people to walk as their chosen mode of travel. This would also help the elderly and those with mobility problems.

 

  1. School travel plans promoting safe pedestrian routes should be given a higher priority. Changes could be made at junctions to encourage more walking to school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

County Cllr Roz Smith, Headington and Quarry Division

City Cllr Ruth Wilkinson, Headington Ward

City Cllr Altaf-Khan, Headington Ward                                                    02/04/15