Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Learning from Cardiff's transport mistakes

Cardiff (under its temporary branding, Coca-Cola) is welcoming international guests to the only Welsh Olympic venue, hosting some of the football events,

On the face of it, visitors to the city should have no trouble getting around when the delights of the city centre and the Millenium Stadium begin to fade. The 'valley lines' provide a local rail network far more comprehensive than we have this side of the water.

On the roads, there's a publicly run bus company providing most of the city services. Oh joy!

Crucially, there's a central 'hub' of bus station and train station right by the city centre and the stadium.
The sort of thing that Plot 6 at Temple Meads could provide here, along with an extra bonus of access to the ferry network too.

As in Bristol, Cardiff's buses are hooked into a real time tracking and display system, so passengers get the great benefit of knowing when the bus is coming. And, better than Bristol, there are various day tickets covering the city and beyond, valid across different bus and rail operators (not the sort of thing that FirstBus encourages here..... ). Cardiff buses are 'exact fare', which reduces dwell time at bus stops.

Seamless movement, you'd think. But in spite of a head start, Cardiff has messed up, and Bristol can learn from that before it makes the same mistakes at Temple Meads.

Truth is, Cardiff doesn't actually have a hub. It has two, next door to each other, but divided by a rather bare no-man's-land decorated with artificial trees. There's nowhere where you can get a readout of bus departure times, let alone do it under cover!

The 'information' display is very difficult for any visitor, uncertain of the city's geaography but wanting to explore, to make any sense of. Within 12 hours we twice found ourselves boarding city centre buses, with the right destination, heading off on wide city centre loops before coming back to the same place for the real journey.

Lessons for Bristol:
Put it under cover.... share the ticket/information/amenity services that go with a major exchange between the different modes. One hall can provide the departure boards, the directions, the fare and ticket information. That's what 'seamless' interchange is all about. And it really does provide the step change in the quality of using public transport that might actually make it more attractive to more people than using the car.

It was (maybe still is) an option in Cardiff; it's certainly there for the taking at Temple Meads. If, that is, a new mayor can go beyond the tokenism of previous administrations and landowners and really make it happen


Adam Cordingley said...
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Adam Cordingley said...

You should check the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire for great examples of multi modal interchanges! I have plenty of good examples for you :)