Last week, a Headington resident trawled the internet and found timetables for bus routes about to be operated by Stagecoach to and from the hospitals. The routes include Osler Road which is unsuitable for bus traffic. There was apparently no consultation with Osler Road or The Croft residents, nor was any consultation held with councillors who knew the area well.
The county hurriedly sent out a press release yesterday which is now on their website (click here). This press release was tracked down by city councillors who had not been informed by the County Council.
An email was sent to us by one of the County officers yesterday evening in response to Friday’s phone call and it states:
I can confirm that alternatives were looked at (access via Headley Way) but the longer journey time would require more buses to maintain the frequency we are looking for and we were of the opinion that a longer than necessary route would not achieve the modal shift from using the JR car parks to that of using the extended Thornhill Park & Ride site.
Here are just some of the questions we have sent to the officers by email:
1. What consultation took place with county and city councillors and indeed residents before the choice of route was agreed?
2. Was the outcome of the public meeting Ruth organised with Osler Road residents, bus companies, county councillors and officers from City and County) taken into account when the route was decided? After that meeting, Oxford Bus Co. to their credit re-routed its service away from Osler Rd and via Headley Way
3. Were the number of near misses and incidents in Osler Road taken into account when the route was decided? (rails had to be put up on the pavement outside the Nursery because of the dangers from vehicles mounting the pavement to pass each other)
4. Were those making the decision aware that Osler Road is for the most part single lane past parked cars (some residents have no off road parking) and that the exit from the Manor Hospital also feeds into it?
5. Were those making the decision aware that buses frequently run empty along [the] stretch of road between [Headington Centre and the JR entrance in Osler Road]?
6. Were those making the decision fully aware of the damage that has been caused to Osler Road by buses and other heavy vehicles for which the road was not designed? Highways no longer replace kerbs trashed by buses and other vehicles clipping the London Road/Osler Road junction as it can’t keep up with the damage – [the] team is simply re-tarmacking it. I’m constantly reporting potholes and the road surface is crumbling, it is currently being reassessed for resurfacing. I was told by one transport planner that she felt the whole road needed rebuilding because of the constant damage.
7. Funding: will the County and Stagecoach jointly pay for the road to be re-surfaced?
In a further phone call this morning, we were informed that the contract had been competitively tendered. We were also told that repairs and maintenance of Osler Road cannot be borne by a commercial bus operator. This will clearly be a further and continuing bill for County Council taxpayers in coming years – if taxpayers’ money is diverted towards this, then other important and high priority re-surfacing projects won’t get done.
We shall update this site as more information is supplied by the County Council. County Councillor Roz Smith is pressing the Cabinet Member Cllr Nimmo-Smith for answers. (and that’s an understatement)
It appears that the County Council now puts resident consultation very low on its priority list. We agree that bus services to hospitals are very important, and we want to keep as many vehicles out of Headington as possible because there is so much congestion. But all it needed was some consultation and a little bit of common sense to recognise that Osler Road is unsuitable for heavy traffic, and Headley Way is a viable and safer alternative.