We promised to post up the County Council officers’ response to our questions and here they are in full. We are continuing a dialogue with the officers on a number of points, and will post later on that.
1. What consultation took place with county and city councillors and indeed residents before the choice of route was agreed?
The only realistic route that would deliver attractive bus services from Thornhill to the JR is via Osler Road. We appreciate the concerns that have been raised by Osler Road residents about more use of the route, but it is public highway and its role in the local public transport network was established by means of the planning process when the JR was expanded in 2007.
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.
See above. It wasn’t necessary for the Oxford Bus Company to use Osler Road to link the JR with the city centre and Abingdon so the route was amended. The new service from Thornhill to JR does have to use Osler Road in order to make it sufficiently attractive to potential passengers. Routeing it via London Road and Headley Way would result in longer and more unreliable journey times and a more expensive operation (at least one more bus would be needed to make the service run). Fewer people would use the bus service and there would in turn be more cars trying to get through Headington adding to congestion, making bus services less attractive again.
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).
Stagecoach has been running buses along Osler Road for some time now. They obviously took into account the operating conditions when submitting their bid for the new bus service.
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?
See answer to previous question. We are looking at how the parking at the southern end of the road can be managed better to make sure buses turning right from London Road are not unduly delayed. As you know, this currently can have a knock on effect on London Road traffic flow.
5. Were those making the decision aware that .. buses frequently run empty along that stretch of road? Will the number 10 route cease to run along Osler Road – that would at least mitigate some of the wear and tear on roads and attitudes.
Inevitably, morning buses will have more passengers travelling towards the John Radcliffe, whilst afternoon and evening buses will have more passengers travelling away from the John Radcliffe. Route 10 conveys many people from the Cowley and Wood Farm areas to the John Radcliffe. Re-routing these buses would add several minutes journey time to people making daily journeys, which in turn would lead to fewer passengers, more cars trying to pass through Headington, less frequent and less attractive bus services.
We will of course work closely with Stagecoach as the operator of both the number 10 and the new park & ride service to review the usage of those services.
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.
There is only sufficient finance for potholes and patching currently, but Osler Road has now been included in the provisional 2014-16 maintenance programme – this is due to be approved by members in February. In the meantime, the city council will continue to do all that it can to fix the existing problems with the surface.
7. Funding: will the County and Stagecoach jointly pay for the road to be re-surfaced?
The county council will fund the comprehensive maintenance scheme provisionally scheduled for 2014-16.
The issue is the length of time it takes along both London Road and Headley Way (and back again) to get to the JR. I’ve answered that point under question 2 – diverting away from Osler Road that way will result in many fewer people using it to get to the JR. Using less fuel is obviously one factor in a decision to use Osler Road – it’s a shorter distance – but the extra time it takes to get to the destination is much more significant.