Time we banned buses from Queen Street, says Oxford councillor

The Oxford Times: Buses queuing up in Queen Street after a Stagecoach bus broke down at Carfax in January Buses queuing up in Queen Street after a Stagecoach bus broke down at Carfax in January

A LEADING councillor who played a role in pedestrianising Cornmarket has said Oxford’s transport bosses have to “take the bull by the horns” and pedestrianise Queen Street.

The removal of buses from the street leading from Bonn Square to Carfax is seen as a key element of the redevelopment of Oxford’s Westgate Centre.

John Tanner, who was leader of Oxford City Council when Cornmarket was pedestrianised in 1999, says the city’s bus companies should be “equal to the task” of dealing with the change.

It comes after Oxford Bus Company, one of the city’s two main operators, warned about the “significant impact” such a move would have on commuters and shoppers, with concerns still unresolved, even after years of negotiations.

Mr Tanner, who is now the council’s executive board member for a cleaner, greener Oxford, said: “My experience from playing a key part in pedestrianising Cornmarket is that you have to take the bull by the horns. It should be possible to re-route the buses and that’s a task for the bus companies.

“I am sure they are more than equal to the task.

“We have always said it would be better for pedestrians and shoppers if they don’t have to keep looking over their shoulders for a bus.”

The closure would effectively divert services around the heart of the city, forcing them to operate via Castle Street, Norfolk Street and Speedwell Street.

That could lead to increased congestion, greater risks for pedestrians, longer bus journeys and rises in bus fares, the bus firm has said.

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company’s operations director, has written to the city council, saying: “We understand that this has been requested by one of the key retailers which is driving the development proposals and this is seen as ‘a must have’ for the development to proceed.

“It is important to understand that this closure cannot happen without having a significant impact on services.”

The Oxford Times: John Tanner

John Tanner

It is understood that the “key retailer” Mr Southall referred to is John Lewis, which plans to open a department store as the centrepiece of the new £400m Westgate centre.

John Lewis has declined to set out its view on the issue but the Westgate Alliance, the developer of the new shopping centre, defended the planned pedestrianisation.

Gary Pleasants, a spokesman for the alliance, said: “Redirecting buses away from Queen Street will help to create a more pedestrian friendly and safer environment for a key shopping street at the heart of the city.”

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “Although this is not part of the Westgate development application, joint working between the councils, bus companies and the alliance is under way to assess what impact pedestrianising Queen Street would have on the rest of the city centre transport network.

“Depending on the outcome, we would then look to develop detailed proposals for the closure of Queen Street to buses, and consult in due course.”

Comments (4)

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11:55am Fri 21 Mar 14

Quentin Walker says...

I have always held the view that if one sees a need to change a system, it will reinforce the case if alternatives are suggested, Mr Tanner.
I have always held the view that if one sees a need to change a system, it will reinforce the case if alternatives are suggested, Mr Tanner. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 0

12:53pm Fri 21 Mar 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Quentin Walker wrote:
I have always held the view that if one sees a need to change a system, it will reinforce the case if alternatives are suggested, Mr Tanner.
There aren't any worthwhile alternatives that can be implemented in the remaining term of Mr Tanner's term of office.

Which is why we are left with hand-wringing and bluster.

A 4 year term will never be long enough to implement a major change or major project.

Perhaps we need an elected "Governor" of "The Corporation of Oxfordshire" - with a ring-fenced budget to promote development, growth and deliver major transport infrastructure projects along with maintaining and improving current infrastructure. Elected term would be 6-8 years.
[quote][p][bold]Quentin Walker[/bold] wrote: I have always held the view that if one sees a need to change a system, it will reinforce the case if alternatives are suggested, Mr Tanner.[/p][/quote]There aren't any worthwhile alternatives that can be implemented in the remaining term of Mr Tanner's term of office. Which is why we are left with hand-wringing and bluster. A 4 year term will never be long enough to implement a major change or major project. Perhaps we need an elected "Governor" of "The Corporation of Oxfordshire" - with a ring-fenced budget to promote development, growth and deliver major transport infrastructure projects along with maintaining and improving current infrastructure. Elected term would be 6-8 years. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -2

1:18pm Fri 21 Mar 14

King Joke says...

Andrew, an eight-year or even a twelve-year term would not be enough to magic more space along Norfolk St, or the west side of St Aldates, which will become very crowded with people and buses should Queen St be closed. It is this which is the problem.

It is time they started planning the development around the high-intensity PT service which will be needed to keep it supplied with shoppers, and not the other way round.
Andrew, an eight-year or even a twelve-year term would not be enough to magic more space along Norfolk St, or the west side of St Aldates, which will become very crowded with people and buses should Queen St be closed. It is this which is the problem. It is time they started planning the development around the high-intensity PT service which will be needed to keep it supplied with shoppers, and not the other way round. King Joke
  • Score: 3

10:34am Tue 25 Mar 14

icba1957 says...

Rather than ban a service which brings hundreds if not thousands of people in to the city every day, why not ban cars from coming beyond a cordon roughly at the P&R sites?
They're the reason Oxford's gridlocked, not the buses which carry up to 50 people in one vehicle!
If there were less general traffic, there could be even more buses or perhaps the trams which seem so beloved by the "blue sky thinkers".
Rather than ban a service which brings hundreds if not thousands of people in to the city every day, why not ban cars from coming beyond a cordon roughly at the P&R sites? They're the reason Oxford's gridlocked, not the buses which carry up to 50 people in one vehicle! If there were less general traffic, there could be even more buses or perhaps the trams which seem so beloved by the "blue sky thinkers". icba1957
  • Score: -1

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