Debate starts over new approach to transport

Ian Hudspeth outlines his vision, left, and Oxford East MP Andrew Smith gives his first reactions

Ian Hudspeth outlines his vision, left, and Oxford East MP Andrew Smith gives his first reactions

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

A MONORAIL connecting key locations around Oxford’s ring road is one of the futuristic schemes put forward by Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth.

He outlined his vision for the future at the launch of Connecting Oxfordshire, which looks beyond the £800m of investment in transport initiatives planned for the county up to 2031.

At the launch at County Hall yesterday, Mr Hudspeth said now was the best time to start a debate about the future of transport in the county, with 80,000 new jobs and 106,000 new homes predicted for the area by 2031.

The £800m of investment includes spending already allocated on Oxford and Didcot Parkway station improvements, improvements at Frideswide Square, an upgrade of the A34/M40 junction near Bicester, and work at the A34 Milton and Chilton interchanges.

Mr Hudspeth said: “Oxfordshire is looking forward to a period of new jobs and great economic growth. The council is putting plans in place to ensure that the county and its residents are able to make the most of this and thrive.

“Towns are going to increase in size, with places such as Bicester set to double in size over the next 10 years.

“We can’t rule out ideas that might seem fanciful, such as creating a passenger service on the Cowley branch line, a mass transit system into Oxford.

“And why couldn’t we create a monorail connecting key locations around the city’s ring road?

“Any solution will require strong public and private partnership working together.”

Witney Gazette:

Graham Jones, of business group Rox, gives his reaction

Mr Hudspeth stressed that the monorail idea was his own “personal vision” not the county council’s, but added he wanted to stimulate debate and put forward proposals that could eventually get the backing of the local authority.

He added: “Wherever you are in the world people know Oxford. We are competing with Shanghai and Seattle so we need to make sure we have the right transport infrastructure for that competition.”

Other elements of Mr Hudspeth’s vision include pedestrianisation plans for St Giles and George Street, creating a rail link from Cowley to the city centre, with a platform at the BMW factory, and trams in St Giles.

He said the debate about whether Queen Street should be fully pedestrianised would continue.

Witney Gazette:

  • Ian and Jo Walker gave plans for St Giles their approval

Corinne Grimley Evans, secretary of Oxford Pedestrians’ Association, said: “We started the campaign to improve St Giles and we are pleased Mr Hudspeth backs us.”

Ann Ducker, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said transport improvements in Oxford would benefit the whole county. Colin Cook, the city councillor in charge of city development, said: “We will work with the county council on these proposals – we always do.”

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said one of the most flexible ways of improving public transport in Oxford was to review the bus routes. He said: “If you want to go from Blackbird Leys to Headington at the moment you have to go in and out of the city centre. If the council talks to the bus companies we might get a better configuration.”

Hugh Jaeger, a spokesman for Bus Users Oxford, who attended the launch, said: “It’s aspirational stuff – but it might not be funded.”

And Peter Headicar, former reader in transport at Oxford Brookes University, said: “An £800m transport system is not realistic if it is to be funded in the normal way.

“Parking levies and congestion charging should be included in the debate.”

Witney Gazette:

  • John Richards, from Iffley, with an artist's impression of how St Giles could be pedestrianised

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company’s operations director, welcomed Cllr Hudspeth’s vision for the future of transport in Oxford.

He added: “We look forward to working with him on the details of a very challenging scheme.”

A spokesman for the BMW Mini plant in Cowley said: “We would be interested to learn more about the council’s vision.”

IDEAS BACKED BY SHOPPERS

SHOPPERS and businesses have backed plans to pedestrianise parts of Oxford city centre and introduce trams to St Giles.

They spoke out after county council leader Ian Hudspeth announced ambitious transport proposals for Oxfordshire.

The vision include the pedestrianisation of St Giles and George Street in Oxford, creating a rail link from Cowley to the city centre, and a tram or guided bus system running from St Giles, north to Water Eaton station, the Begbroke science area and possibly Oxford Airport at Kidlington.

Witney Gazette:

  • Karen Paterman, pictured reading yesterday's Oxford Mail report outlining the ideas

In St Giles, Mr Hudspeth wants to create a continental-style boulevard between Martyrs’ Memorial and the war memorial at the junction of Woodstock and Banbury roads, with trams or guided buses running either side.

The council leader outlined the proposals, which could come in after 2020, as his “personal vision” for Connecting Oxfordshire, which sets out how the transport system in Oxfordshire will be developed.

John Richards, 72, a retired engineer, from Oxford, said he would not object to trams in St Giles but would not be in favour of the central area being altered.

He said: “St Giles is very elegant, one of Oxford’s best features along with the High Street and if you pave it over it will look like Cheltenham.”

But Jo Walker and husband Ian Walker, teachers from Abingdon, were all in favour of the plans. Mum-of-two Mrs Walker, 38, said: “I love the idea of pedestrianisation so people can mill around and enjoy the feel of the architecture.

“I hope the trams would not block the views of the colleges.”

Mr Walker, 44, added: “I’m all in favour of this.

“Other UK cities are much better on pedestrianisation.

“When you have children you don’t want to be looking over your shoulder all the time worrying about buses.”

Charles Bennie, 23, who is studying modern history at St Hugh’s College, said: “I’m not sure if enough people would use the trams or why people would choose them over cars. The council needs to do lots of investigation before they start this off.”

Lorna Cameron, from Summertown, who works for Oxford University’s computer science department, said: “I would be amazed if this plan for St Giles ever happened.”

Karen Peterman, 38, manager of Toni and Guy hairdressers in George Street, said she was in favour of pedestrianising George Street.

She said: “Pedestrianisation would be the best thing that could happen in this street.

“I have worked in the street for 20 years and I have seen shoppers knocked about by buses and cars.

“The buses create pollution and if they were removed I think it could boost trade.”

Natasha Godfrey, assistant manager of Byron burger restaurant in George Street, agreed, adding: “It would be nicer if buses were not coming along here at all times of day and night.”

Mike Vousden, 66, of Church Green, Witney, a neuroscience researcher, said he would be in favour of the pedestrianisation of George Street if bus stops could be moved elsewhere.

Comments (14)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:43am Fri 4 Apr 14

Sophia says...

Wonderful! 2000 new homes, towns doubling in size, monorails everywhere! Soon we can forget fuddy duddy old 'Oxfordshire' with its ludicrously outdated 'countryside' and concentrate on the only thing that matters in life - money, more and more of it!
Wonderful! 2000 new homes, towns doubling in size, monorails everywhere! Soon we can forget fuddy duddy old 'Oxfordshire' with its ludicrously outdated 'countryside' and concentrate on the only thing that matters in life - money, more and more of it! Sophia
  • Score: 0

9:06am Fri 4 Apr 14

Gunslinger says...

Nice ideas.
However, there are obvious contradictions. How is increasing and improving use of public transport helped by moving access points to the city centre further out?
Fully pedestrianizing Queen Street means the point of convergence for bus routes heading south presumably moves from St Aldates out as far as the Police Station or beyond. Closing George Street / Magdelen Street/ St Giles similarly pushes access to/from north and westbound services way out from the centre.
And would shared use of trams in pedestrian areas really be safer - trams are both quieter and faster than buses. At least in areas like Queen Street at present the sheer numbers of buses passing through means you are aware of and on the lookout for them.
To make this work for everybody would involve reconfiguring the entire city centre in ways which would be both unaffordable and unacceptable to the ivory tower brigade.
Nice ideas. However, there are obvious contradictions. How is increasing and improving use of public transport helped by moving access points to the city centre further out? Fully pedestrianizing Queen Street means the point of convergence for bus routes heading south presumably moves from St Aldates out as far as the Police Station or beyond. Closing George Street / Magdelen Street/ St Giles similarly pushes access to/from north and westbound services way out from the centre. And would shared use of trams in pedestrian areas really be safer - trams are both quieter and faster than buses. At least in areas like Queen Street at present the sheer numbers of buses passing through means you are aware of and on the lookout for them. To make this work for everybody would involve reconfiguring the entire city centre in ways which would be both unaffordable and unacceptable to the ivory tower brigade. Gunslinger
  • Score: -1

9:10am Fri 4 Apr 14

wales01man says...

A lot of good ideas for the future of Oxfordshire problems are where is the money and the NIMBYs who will oppose most of it to many years of investment in homes and commercial developments and not enough investment in the transport infrastructure ,
A lot of good ideas for the future of Oxfordshire problems are where is the money and the NIMBYs who will oppose most of it to many years of investment in homes and commercial developments and not enough investment in the transport infrastructure , wales01man
  • Score: 0

10:22am Fri 4 Apr 14

GrouchoSays1 says...

I this the same council that have to save about £90 million over the next few years? The same council who wasted millions on Chinese paving for Cornmarket, scrapped school buses and can't even repair a pothole properly? (London Road is embarrassing and possibly the first thing many visitors to the city experience). I saw Ian Hudspeth on the news last night and when questioned he said he'd "done a bit of research!" A bit, you better do a lot more if you want to spend this much of our money. A monorail would need buses or trams to connect to the centre so that would not help congestion at all. The only people who may benefit from a monorail are the residents of Botley or Abingdon Road as it will be above the floodwater - oh yes, another thing they can't sort out. It's all just another HS2 vanity project. I don't know what the council are on, but I'd love a spoonful on my cereal.
I this the same council that have to save about £90 million over the next few years? The same council who wasted millions on Chinese paving for Cornmarket, scrapped school buses and can't even repair a pothole properly? (London Road is embarrassing and possibly the first thing many visitors to the city experience). I saw Ian Hudspeth on the news last night and when questioned he said he'd "done a bit of research!" A bit, you better do a lot more if you want to spend this much of our money. A monorail would need buses or trams to connect to the centre so that would not help congestion at all. The only people who may benefit from a monorail are the residents of Botley or Abingdon Road as it will be above the floodwater - oh yes, another thing they can't sort out. It's all just another HS2 vanity project. I don't know what the council are on, but I'd love a spoonful on my cereal. GrouchoSays1
  • Score: 0

11:18am Fri 4 Apr 14

The New Private Eye says...

Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-(
Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-( The New Private Eye
  • Score: 4

11:52am Fri 4 Apr 14

Patrick, Devon says...

The New Private Eye wrote:
Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-(
Move the bus station to the rail station. Gloucester Green was never the best place. Long distance coaches should terminate at Thornhill, which could be served by rapid transit.
[quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-([/p][/quote]Move the bus station to the rail station. Gloucester Green was never the best place. Long distance coaches should terminate at Thornhill, which could be served by rapid transit. Patrick, Devon
  • Score: -4

12:37pm Fri 4 Apr 14

GrouchoSays1 says...

Let's not forget who own most of the land in and around Oxford and who pull the strings. They've prevented development for decades which is why we end up with bottle-necks and disjointed transport routes. We need better park & rides (that don't charge you for both parking and riding) as the exisiting ones are too close to the centre. Let's have one at Witney for the people who work in Oxford, which will reduce the amount of traffic on the A40, before it even gets on the A40. However, the amount of land given over to ground-level only parking is crazy. Just look at Unipart - if they had a multi-story, then most of the land there could be given over to development. I agree the bus station, with it's one way in and out, is totally inadequate, especially with the number of coaches coming to the city. Inability to deliver to businesses is hampering Wallingford and leads to decline. Part -pedestrianised streets with one-way bus lanes that can take early morning delivery trucks is one option.
Let's not forget who own most of the land in and around Oxford and who pull the strings. They've prevented development for decades which is why we end up with bottle-necks and disjointed transport routes. We need better park & rides (that don't charge you for both parking and riding) as the exisiting ones are too close to the centre. Let's have one at Witney for the people who work in Oxford, which will reduce the amount of traffic on the A40, before it even gets on the A40. However, the amount of land given over to ground-level only parking is crazy. Just look at Unipart - if they had a multi-story, then most of the land there could be given over to development. I agree the bus station, with it's one way in and out, is totally inadequate, especially with the number of coaches coming to the city. Inability to deliver to businesses is hampering Wallingford and leads to decline. Part -pedestrianised streets with one-way bus lanes that can take early morning delivery trucks is one option. GrouchoSays1
  • Score: 4

1:08pm Fri 4 Apr 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

The New Private Eye wrote:
Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-(
Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m.

It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor.
[quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-([/p][/quote]Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m. It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -13

6:42pm Fri 4 Apr 14

Gunslinger says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
The New Private Eye wrote:
Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-(
Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m.

It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor.
When I first visited Oxford about 40 years ago the bus station occupied the whole of Gloucester Green, not just the small corner it does now.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-([/p][/quote]Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m. It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor.[/p][/quote]When I first visited Oxford about 40 years ago the bus station occupied the whole of Gloucester Green, not just the small corner it does now. Gunslinger
  • Score: 2

3:36am Sat 5 Apr 14

The New Private Eye says...

Gunslinger wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
The New Private Eye wrote:
Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-(
Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m.

It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor.
When I first visited Oxford about 40 years ago the bus station occupied the whole of Gloucester Green, not just the small corner it does now.
Yep with the grotty cafe in the middle, with (a then) state of the art Space Invaders machine, but also a decent pub (the Greyhound) which is sadly missed. And I am just waiting for the Walton Street/Jericho crowd to start when they realise that everyday is going to be like St Giles Fair in terms of traffic and not just 3 days a year
[quote][p][bold]Gunslinger[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-([/p][/quote]Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m. It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor.[/p][/quote]When I first visited Oxford about 40 years ago the bus station occupied the whole of Gloucester Green, not just the small corner it does now.[/p][/quote]Yep with the grotty cafe in the middle, with (a then) state of the art Space Invaders machine, but also a decent pub (the Greyhound) which is sadly missed. And I am just waiting for the Walton Street/Jericho crowd to start when they realise that everyday is going to be like St Giles Fair in terms of traffic and not just 3 days a year The New Private Eye
  • Score: 2

7:37am Sat 5 Apr 14

Patrick, Devon says...

The New Private Eye wrote:
Gunslinger wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
The New Private Eye wrote:
Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-(
Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m.

It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor.
When I first visited Oxford about 40 years ago the bus station occupied the whole of Gloucester Green, not just the small corner it does now.
Yep with the grotty cafe in the middle, with (a then) state of the art Space Invaders machine, but also a decent pub (the Greyhound) which is sadly missed. And I am just waiting for the Walton Street/Jericho crowd to start when they realise that everyday is going to be like St Giles Fair in terms of traffic and not just 3 days a year
The "grotty cafe" in the middle was the old market settling room. Where were the Preservation Trust when that went, as it was quite historic and interesting, unlike the register office? The area to the east of it was never part of the bus station - it was a car park, to which the open market was moved from Oxpens.

The bus station would be better placed at the rail station to be part of a transport hub. The traffic would not move en masse to Walton St, as there would be far less of it in a car free centre, with efficient public transport.
[quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gunslinger[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: Close George Street to motor vehicles, HAHAHA, how do we get to the bus station? or buses in and out of it? Or deliveries to businesses or massive lorries to The Theatre etc, etc. Ah I got it Helicopters will drop all of the loads in :-([/p][/quote]Gloucester Green has been inadequate for years. Certainly since the maximum length of a coach was increased from 12m to 15m. It's a bit like the Westgate Car Park. Clearly nobody ever thought that a family car might be bigger than a Morris Minor.[/p][/quote]When I first visited Oxford about 40 years ago the bus station occupied the whole of Gloucester Green, not just the small corner it does now.[/p][/quote]Yep with the grotty cafe in the middle, with (a then) state of the art Space Invaders machine, but also a decent pub (the Greyhound) which is sadly missed. And I am just waiting for the Walton Street/Jericho crowd to start when they realise that everyday is going to be like St Giles Fair in terms of traffic and not just 3 days a year[/p][/quote]The "grotty cafe" in the middle was the old market settling room. Where were the Preservation Trust when that went, as it was quite historic and interesting, unlike the register office? The area to the east of it was never part of the bus station - it was a car park, to which the open market was moved from Oxpens. The bus station would be better placed at the rail station to be part of a transport hub. The traffic would not move en masse to Walton St, as there would be far less of it in a car free centre, with efficient public transport. Patrick, Devon
  • Score: 3

10:06am Sat 5 Apr 14

Gunslinger says...

"The bus station would be better placed at the rail station to be part of a transport hub. The traffic would not move en masse to Walton St, as there would be far less of it in a car free centre, with efficient public transport."

How will that be, when all of the proposals seem bent on keeping public transport out of the city centre too?

Most people when shopping like to get their purchases back to the car as quickly and easily as possible. Park and Ride is just about acceptable if you can get on the bus outside or near to the shops and go straight back to the car. It won't work if you have to walk 1/2 mile first, or have to transfer to some sort of city hopper service for part of the journey.
"The bus station would be better placed at the rail station to be part of a transport hub. The traffic would not move en masse to Walton St, as there would be far less of it in a car free centre, with efficient public transport." How will that be, when all of the proposals seem bent on keeping public transport out of the city centre too? Most people when shopping like to get their purchases back to the car as quickly and easily as possible. Park and Ride is just about acceptable if you can get on the bus outside or near to the shops and go straight back to the car. It won't work if you have to walk 1/2 mile first, or have to transfer to some sort of city hopper service for part of the journey. Gunslinger
  • Score: -5

10:23am Sat 5 Apr 14

wales01man says...

All very good looking into the past But the future transport needs of this area are of concern. If money was no object and plans could sail through unopposed we would have the best transport infrastructure in the world!
A solution has to be found if the Clever planners cannot find a solution let them give way to others fumbling along with no clear policy just ideas that will never materialise is NOT the answer.
All very good looking into the past But the future transport needs of this area are of concern. If money was no object and plans could sail through unopposed we would have the best transport infrastructure in the world! A solution has to be found if the Clever planners cannot find a solution let them give way to others fumbling along with no clear policy just ideas that will never materialise is NOT the answer. wales01man
  • Score: -1

12:30pm Sat 5 Apr 14

Oly Shipp says...

Yes please, let's pedestrianise St Giles as soon as possible! It could be transformed from an ugly carpark to one of the most beautiful public spaces in Europe. Agree that we should judge this by actions not words, but we should give Ian Hudspeth credit for showing leadership and vision on this. Can't wait!
Yes please, let's pedestrianise St Giles as soon as possible! It could be transformed from an ugly carpark to one of the most beautiful public spaces in Europe. Agree that we should judge this by actions not words, but we should give Ian Hudspeth credit for showing leadership and vision on this. Can't wait! Oly Shipp
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree