New developments need better bus routes

Transport company Stagecoach has launched a blueprint to help ensure bus services can effectively serve new housing developments being planned across the country.

The company has warned that failure to build in public transport to new developments would result in a greater cost to the economy in lost productivity, poorer air quality for our children growing up, longer working days because of extra commuting time and a less safe living environment with more cars on the road.

Stagecoach has now published a guide to assist and support local authorities and other stakeholders through the planning, detailed design and delivery process around new housing developments in UK towns and cities.

The bus operator believes that effective partnership working at an early stage in the planning process can help deliver more efficient use of road-space and increase bus use, thereby helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

The document ‘Bus Services & New Residential Developments’ is being sent out to a wide database of local councils and development industry stakeholders across England, Scotland and Wales.

It includes information and guidance covering a number of areas, including:

  • Highways design and specification – including engineering requirements for bus routes traffic calming measures, shared space areas, and the use of bus gates;
  • Bus stops and supporting infrastructure – including walking distances to bus stops and bus stop locations and positioning;
  • Parking provision on bus routes – including good practice recommendations as well as things to avoid.

Stagecoach’s Head of Strategic Development and the Built Environment (South), and author of the blueprint, Nick Small, said, “We are working increasingly closely with local authorities and other stakeholders across all areas of bus service delivery to help improve the effectiveness of local bus services and benefit local people. This document builds on that work and offers further support and guidance from a bus operator’s perspective.

“As local authorities in most parts of the country are being expected to plan for a major boost to the supply of new homes, this growth risks further burdening already-congested local roads. High-quality bus services, therefore need to play an even more central role in local land-use and transport plans, to ensure people can reach where they want to go, both within and between our towns and cities. It’s vital that bus companies are involved early on in the planning process to discuss the operational opportunities and challenges for bus routes in new residential developments.

“Where that happens, this type of partnership working can help ensure the delivery of effective bus routes that work for local people and therefore help increase bus use. This in turn delivers significant environmental benefits by reducing the number of cars on the road and helping to improve air quality.”

One full double deck bus can remove up to 75 cars from the road. Research shows that too many cars and worsening traffic congestion is a major contributor to the 40,000 to 50,000 early deaths a year in the UK from air pollution. The problem is linked to cancer, asthma, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dementia, with children, the elderly, and the poorest in society are most at risk. The issue also has a financial cost to the country of over £20 billion a year.

Detailed research by Prof David Begg for Greener Journeys has highlighted that across the country the congestion crisis is turning people away from bus travel and putting jobs in the industry and wider economy at risk.

Other research too has shown recently that Britain’s roads are now the most congested in Europe and that time wasted in the UK’s worst traffic jams will cost motorists £62 billion by 2025.


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