12:00PM, Wednesday 22 January 2020
Maidenhead has the second lowest bus use in the country, a council meeting was told this week.
Simon Fisher, general manager at Courtney Buses, was speaking at the Maidenhead Town Forum on Monday.
Mr Fisher was quizzed on the closure of Shoppenhangers Road and the impact this was having on his company – but also spoke of his struggle enticing Maidenhead residents on to the bus.
It was revealed that only 32 per cent of passengers with Courtney – which is rebranding to Thames Valley Buses from May - pay for their journey. The rest of the users have free passes.
The forum was also told an extra bus would cost £180,000 a year.
“It is a challenging environment in Maidenhead at the moment. We are seeing a decline in bus use,” Mr Fisher told councillors and members of the public at the town hall meeting.
“It has been good to hear of [redevelopment] plans, [but] I would like to think there might be some provisions being made.
“There are lots of people who come in to town who do not cycle and for whom a car is not appropriate.”
Mr Fisher was asked by forum chairman Cllr Gurch Singh (Con, St Mary’s) what the council could do to increase bus use.
The bus manager called for lighting to be improved above the bus stop underneath the railway station, and enquired about the possibility of traffic lights being phased to prioritise buses.
Forum members were updated on the closure of Shoppenhangers Road due to the collapsed sewer and water main.
Last week, Thames Water said the road could be closed for ‘up to another seven weeks’.
Mr Fisher said: “It has not really had a massive effect on us timetabling wise. We have not had any cancellations.
“We would like it fixed as soon as possible like everybody else.”
The council will act upon requests from Maidenhead Golf Club – which is still open – to increase signage during the closure.
The bus manager was also asked how far off electric buses were.
“Quite a long way to be fair,” Mr Fisher said.
“The challenging thing is getting a battery big enough for the distances we go.
“Probably not in the next five years, I think it will be a bit longer than that.”
Also discussed at the meeting was the controversial right-turn out of the Nicholsons car park.
Last week, the Advertiser reported on drivers’ misery with queues out of the centre in to Broadway, which is now two-way.
Cllr Phil Haseler (Con, Cox Green) said: “We know the car park was not designed to have the right-turn, but I believe it has worked well.
“At Christmas time, there was an increase in traffic, as there were in other towns.
“I was sceptical, but it alleviates traffic going through Queen Street, which was why it was instigated.”
Cllr Helen Taylor (TBF, Oldfield) asked about the possibility of syncing the two sets of traffic lights along Broadway to increase traffic flow.
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