About that ‘50% of journeys by sustainable transport’ aim…

In the Council’s transport strategy it is said that they are aiming for 50% of journeys made by sustainable means.

How this 50% is broken down isn’t clear, but the council certainly has its work cut out if it wants to grow bus trips, not to mention trips by bike.

Cost per mile…

This week the news broke that Cardiff Bus was increasing the cost of its fares, suggesting that congestion was contributing to its operating costs. If you think about it, just like any commercial vehicle when it isn’t moving, it isn’t earning.

A while ago we wrote about Wales Online’s commuter challenge, which discovered that the fastest way into Cardiff was by bike. However, the slowest was the bus. Having spent a fair amount of time on buses lately, it’s fortunate that the new 132 bus is pretty luxurious (as far as buses go), because you do have to spend an inordinate amount of time on one just to get from the north of Cardiff into the city.

Get on a bus any later than 7:30 in the morning and you are looking at between 45 minutes to an hour to travel 6 miles. Bus companies have to pay to keep their buses going and the regulations care more about a driver’s hours than the distances they’ve driven. This only serves to ramp up the cost to the companies. In the case of Cardiff Bus, they have chosen to pass that cost onto the consumer after holding off for a number of years.

Ms Ogbonna said: “The more people we have using the buses, the easier it is to ease congestion in the city. Also, it’s easier for the unit cost of the service to come down because you have the higher volume.

Source: Cardiff Bus fares are increasing and it’s being blamed on congestion and running costs – Wales Online

However, it isn’t just Cardiff Bus feeling the heat from the morning gridlock. Stagecoach has taken the decision to stop serving Tongwynlais with its 26 service before 8pm. The 26 and I go way back, spending my formative years in Tongwynlais. It was a service shared between Cardiff Bus and a company called IBT, whose buses had no windows…and smoking was allowed at the time. It probably shortened my life by a number of years.

Anyway, I digress. These days it links Caerphilly with Cardiff, via Taffs Well and Tongwynlais. Well, at least it did.

Following customer feedback, service 26 will no longer serve Tongwynlais during the daytime Monday – Saturday, but instead operate via the Coryton Interchange between Taffs Well & Coryton, Village Hotel.  Alternative services to Tongwynlais are available by using our Gold service 132, operating up to every 12 minutes.

Source: Service Changes Oct and Nov 2017

It is easy to understand why though. In the morning, traffic queues from the top of the hill heading towards the hotel and takes a good 20 minutes to get from Ton village to the traffic lights leading to Coryton Interchange. Still, now we have one less bus serving a village infested with cars.

It doesn’t have to be like this…

If you take a holistic view of just how much all this traffic is costing the city it makes it a heck of a lot easier to make the case for some truly transformative measures. First of all take all of the externalities that our car-dominated culture likes to brush under the rug because it challenges its world view –the eyewatering cost to the NHS from pollution and inactivity; the costs of repairing the potholes and cleaning up after collisions; the cost to policing and the sheer number of working hours lost because people are sat in queues of traffic.

Next, balance that against the cost of developing a congestion charge for Cardiff. We would create a congestion charging zone that covers everything south of the A48 and everything north of the prison. Commercial vehicles and blue badge holders would be exempt. You could use the money raised to subsidise cheap or even free bus travel for everyone and some good quality active travel infrastructure.

Without all that traffic the buses will run to time; they’ll be more cost-effective;  the air will be cleaner; people will get to work on time; they’ll be a bit more active from having to walk to a bus stop and heaven forbid passengers actually start speaking to each other like the old days, we may even develop some social cohesion.

On the other hand if the council does nothing, we folk on bicycles will inherit the roads. Cars do a lot less damage when they’re not moving.

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