Pipers Way bus lane in £3M bus corridor proposals

Diagram of bus priority scheme on Pipers Way
A bus lane is proposed for Pipers Way
The latest round of Swindon Borough Council’s consultation on a £3 million bus priority scheme for services between Wichelstowe and Swindon Town Centre seems to ignore recent developments in bus services to Wichelstowe. The proposals ignore the Stagecoach bus service from Wichelstowe that runs along Croft Road. Instead they concentrate on changes to the route used by Thamesdown buses to Wichelstowe. It’s as though they favour the bus company that the council recently sold.

The proposals include three sets of changes.

Diagram of bus priority scheme  at High Street
The junction by the Co-op in Old Town will be modified.

  • Changes to junctions in Old Town intended to make it easier for buses by narrowing the road, and replacing three pedestrian crossings with shared spaces.
  • Making more space for other traffic on the approaches to Mannington roundabout and remove the bus lane on Wootton Bassett Road.
  • Removing the bus stops at Wroughton Park & Ride and at Nationwide Building Society, replacing them with bus stops on Pipers Way, and add a northbound bus lane to Pipers Way between Nationwide and the junction for Broome Manor Golf Course.

The recommendations for Old Town differ from the proposals in either the first or second round of consultation on this scheme, and now rely on narrowing the carriageway and changes to road surfaces to encourage drivers to give way to buses. And the council continues to push for so called shared spaces in place of pedestrian crossings, despite their unpopularity elsewhere in Swindon.

The proposals for Mannington Roundabout are very similar to option 1 in the last round of consultation, and seem designed to hinder bus services by removing a bus lane and making the junctions between Wootton Bassett Road and Penzance Drive and Redposts Drive pinch points where two lanes narrow into one. Finally, on Pipers Way they propose adding a bus lane on one of the most freely flowing stretches of road where it will have no noticeable effect, whilst giving those travelling to Nationwide Building Society a little further to walk.

The Old Town and Pipers Way changes are claimed to reduce journey times from Middle Wichel to Swindon town centre from 22 minutes to 12 minutes. The journey on Stagecoach’s route along Croft Road is already 16 minutes. That’s a four minutes saving at a cost of almost £3.3M.

Diagram of bus priority scheme  on Bath Road
The junction of Victoria Road with Bath Road is to be narrowed and the road surface changed to suggest priority for buses exiting Wood Street.
The council expect there to be 2700 bus journeys to or from Wichelstowe each day. That’s only likely to happen when the rest of Wichelstowe is completed, which is many years away yet. Much of the funding for this scheme is coming from central government via the Local Growth Fund. So timing of the scheme is mainly linked to timescales set by central government for spending that money and not to local needs.

The council will be showing their plans between 3 pm and 6.30 pm on Thursday 23rd February at East Wichel Community Centre. Other sessions will be held this week and next in West Swindon, Old Town and Wroughton. Comments can also be submitted to the council online. Details are on the Swindon Travel Choices website.