The Society is impressed by the scale and vision of the strategy. We welcome most of the content with just a few reservations.
We accept that in the longer term it is essential to move away from personal travel towards public transport, cycling and walking and the main thrust of the strategy in these areas is to be welcomed.
We particularly welcome the Very Light Rail plans and for the first time it feels as though this might actually happen. A VLR network would certainly be a gamechanger in terms of the attractiveness of public transport in the city, although we recognise that its achievement will take many years and require a significant commitment of public resources. Until then, an adequate bus network will need to be maintained and we will always have to rely on buses for travel in the suburbs.
We share the city’s rail aspirations, in particular the links with Leicester and Nottingham. We support the idea of improved transport hubs associated with railway stations and the bus station at Coventry Railway Station is very welcome. We are pleased that the Council changed its original plan to have buses reverse into stops.
We would like to see detailed investigation of the possibility of a southern relief road associated with the use of the construction road for HS2. Although we accept the necessity of the move to public transport, the traffic issues associated with the University and the travel patterns of staff there and at the Business Park, together with the proposed new stadium for Coventry City FC would justify further attention to the road pattern in that area.
We welcome the network of quality cycle provision which is planned. We hope that even before the strategic network is complete the Council will look again at some of the earlier schemes which seem to have been designed by people with no love of cycling.
We believe that the council is taking the right approach in not imposing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods without the support of the local community.
We continue to be impressed at the city’s commitment to electric vehicles and in particular the creation of a neighbourhood network of charging points. Although it will probably be many years before people in our poorer neighbourhoods are driving electric cars, it at least gives them the option.
We feel that the creation of an all-electric bus fleet by 2025 is an excellent aspiration and although we will not be the first city in the UK to do this (it will be in place in Derry by 2023), it is nevertheless an excellent plan. The fact that the new buses have more space for disabled users and pushchairs is also welcome.
We welcome the plans to make improvements to ticketing by expanding the use of contactless payments, multi-operator tickets and ‘fare capping’ and expanding the amount of live information at bus shelters. However, we have observed that the maintenance of such information systems (including the online Apps) has not always been consistent.
We support the plans to expand the area of pedestrianisation in the city centre and the focusing of car parking close to the Ring Road, so long as disabled access and passenger drop-off is retained.
We particularly support the intention of improving maintenance of the city’s degraded highways and we feel that this, as a priority, will be highly valued in the city.
We feel that there is perhaps more that could be done to support car sharing / car clubs, in particular associated with the new high density residential apartment schemes in and close to the city centre. These schemes have little space for car parking and alternative provision is needed if they are to be attractive to young people.
There are some elements of the strategy that we feel are somewhat eccentric.
We do not give the same value as the local authority to the experimentation with driverless cars on the city’s existing roads. The expenditure on this provides no benefit to Coventry people and the disturbance created is not justified. We appreciate that the city wants to be seen as being at the forefront of everything but there is absolutely no climate change benefit from having driverless cars on the city’s roads and there has been no evaluation of any benefits there might be. The drawbacks in terms of danger to public safety are all too obvious.
We do not feel that the prospect of freight consolidation centres is likely to be practical and the idea of parcel delivery by drones is a bit wacky. We do not feel that the drone airport is going to make any real difference to the city and we hope that the city is not spending our money on this.
Despite these few reservations we commend the City Council on a very sound and practical Transport Strategy.