Wednesday 8 January 2014

Northampton News : Notable Nonsense [3]

"Interchange out of Range"
This is what MP Brian Binley said about North Gate bus station.

 1  This isn't meant to garage buses.

 2  It's meant to be a bus interchange.

 3  This will serve the town and bus users very well indeed.

 4  This project is alive and well and part of the town's regeneration.

We will examine each of these politically-motivated soundbites in turn. The reality is revealing.

 1  This isn't meant to garage buses. Neither was Greyfriars! But it was built to allow plenty of room to park buses overnight and during drivers' meal breaks etc. Presumably, when Stagecoach was looking for a depot to replace their much larger site, Northampton Borough Council [NBC] saw an opportunity to make some dosh!
But the new facility has absolutely zero facilities for parking, staff breaks, even for a short "relief" between trips. The consequence will be that more buses will have to run "light" to the new depot adding to the potential for traffic chaos - of which more (much more!) tomorrow!

 2   It's meant to be a bus interchange. In "Newspeak" the word interchange is a pseudonym for "bus station". It can now mean anything from a lavish under-cover bus station with restaurants, comfy seating and a bevy of scantily clad dancing girls to amuse waiting passengers to a couple of shelters at the roadside. Remember Grimesthorpe "Interchange" near Barnsley ...
... South Yorkshire's collection of four bus shelters and a pole! But at least all buses stop there.

North Gate has 14 stands; Greyfriars had 27 plus additional space for National Express services, latterly unused. Even the most higgerant of bus travellers will be able to "do the math". It's obviously, blatently, mind numbingly ridiculously apparent that it ain't big enough. Yet in the early days Councillor (Mackin)Tosh was assuring us that "we, the Council and the bus operators, have been to Sixfields (footy stadium car park) ...
... and tried it out; and there's plenty of room." Oh yeah?

Now come the revisionist sound-bites.

 A  Some operators may prefer to use the existing Drapery stops
new bus station site, top left

 B  Some routes will continue to use the existing Drapery stops 

 C  The Drapery will have top-of-the-range shelters, seating and real time screens
new facilities in the Drapery (recently installed).
note: seating
note: protection from weather
note: real time screens

 D  The Drapery is part of the new bus station. Oh yeah!

Of course, back in the good old days, the Drapery was part of Northampton Corporation's town centre non-interchange ...
... without shelters!

 3   This will serve the town and bus users very well indeed.  We are still in the realms of Rumsfeld's "known unknowns."  See "Northampton News : Notable Nonsense [1]" (read again).  BUT, our Northampton correspondent thinks this will be the way in which North Gate "serves the town and bus users".

IF your bus terminates in the town, it will use the bus station. If it runs across the town, it will (often, but not in every case) use the Drapery and passengers will have to walk (often in wind and rain) from the "state-of-the-art" Drapery shelters to the "state-of-the-art" bus station to "make an easy interchange between services".

So the prestigious up-market high-spec Stagecoach Gold X4 via Wellingborough will leave from the Drapery ...
... whilst the prestigious up-market high-spec Stagecoach Gold X46/X47 via Wellingborough will leave from the bus station. Possibly?

And if, perchance, you arrived at the Drapery and wished to continue your journey by National Express from its new terminal (it's a bus shelter, like the Drapery facility!) in Victoria Street ...
... in the rain, with luggage; and perhaps with a tight connection ...

And if you needed to buy a National Express ticket?

 4  This project is alive and well and part of the town's regeneration. Just in case our loyal readership has forgotten, still somnolent from turkey curry, turkey rissoles, turkey soup and turkey muffins, this regeneration is very much "on hold" because Legal and General have decided to reconsider extending the Grosvenor Shopping Centre; an extension designed to provide Northampton with even more empty shops.

Meanwhile, MP Binley might better have sightly changed his sound bite. From the bus passengers' point of view, this project is alive and well and part of the town's DEgeneration. Just for the rrcord, here is MP Binley without a hard hat!
But it's not just passengers' comfort that will suffer from Plan Mackinosh; there is a potential problem with the town's traffic ... and a likely serious problem with time-keeping.
 Next bus blog : Thursday 9th January 

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