NigelP and I went to this event on Friday 23rd February. ‘The aims were, firstly, to discover and provide data which would show us the need for transport now and in the future; and hence inform Bath’s Transport Policy for the next 30 to 40 years. Secondly, it was to learn about the pollution we experience daily here, as, in large parts of Bath, it is illegally and dangerously high’. AND Camden Road, we believe, is probably afflicted.
A good report of proceedings is here from Bath Newseum. There were about 100 in the room, rather than 20 or so you can see in the photo.
No one was arguing that we don’t have enough traffic. It’s simply whether existing needs behind the use of private vehicles should be mitigated or actively discouraged.
Here are six facts and my take on them as a peak time traffic sufferer on Camden Road:
- Bath has 6 million visitors each year – mostly arriving by road (car and coach), regrettably. Of those 4.8 million are day visitors – mostly UK, not from overseas.
- Of the overnight stayers UK ones spend £186 and the overseas, £386.
I sat next to a couple from NYC at the Bachfest who were definitely spending a lot to do a lot. We should really value our tourism business and improve visitors’ experience for lots of reasons.
HOUSING AND PARKING
- Retail business is declining but catering and business is increasing. However not many can afford to work and live in Bath, hence the peak time commuting and strong campaigning for genuinely affordable housing. I heard elsewhere that London is a tale of two cities – scarce and expensive housing for the lower paid and masses of high end property but scarcely occupied by its owners. Unregulated AirBnB is silently pushing Bath in the same direction.
- Some cogent arguments were made to extend P&R opening hours to start to support the high staff numbers in the hospitality businesses who start before breakfast and finish well into the early hours. This could also embrace our visitors’ cars which probably don’t get used, once their owners are in intriguing Bath for the week-end. But we’ll have to wait two years or so for the next contract negotiation.
- Closer to home on bus routes 6 and 7, we should be getting much cleaner burning Euro6 buses to replace our Euro4s in July this year. The bus company could not tell me whether they would be quieter.
- Railways – the main train line will be shut again this Easter, but we will be getting newer, cleaner diesel/electric hybrid trains (running on diesel) on GWR route. We’ll also get some newer ‘turbo’ 5-car trains on the other lines passing through Bath, from Wiltshire, Bristol and beyond to Cardiff which could encourage transfer to train from car. And there is talk of a ‘MetroWest’ to link up Bristol with its surrounding areas including Bath.