With the growing population in the Guildford area and environmental pressures it is highly likely the need to promote modal shift will be renewed once we have learned to live with the Corona virus.
The current bus network is centred on Guildford Bus station that is planned to be moved and resized as part of the North Street Development. This change is based on an acceptance of broadly the current bus network with services terminating in the town centre.
The development of new major sites e.g. Wisley, Weyside etc, new rail stations and a need to manage traffic congestion in the Guildford area will require new and upgraded services. Bus technology will also evolve with revised power sources and potential autonomous operation. Future bus services could look very different.
Bus technology is evolving with the help of substantial government funding. As an example Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced 6 January 2021 that Coventry and Oxford are developing proposals to become the first parts of the UK to run all-electric bus services. Subject to successful business cases, each area could be awarded up to £50 million to not only replace its entire fleet of buses with all-electric versions, but to also install new infrastructure, such as charging stations, and pay for electric grid updates.
The management of bus routes is led by Surrey County Council with input from Guildford Borough Council. Guildford Borough Council manage local car parking although some sites are still provided by Surrey County Council.
To shape a bus network for the future we need to consider the following:
> Smart Ticketing should this be introduced across local bus routes, local trains, bike schemes AND car parking to allow easy access to all transport modes and allow for differentiated pricing to promote modal change.
> Infrastructure needs to be provided for alternatively fuelled buses e.g. Charging Points for electricity (and hydrogen?)
> Should the New Guildford Bus Station be designed on the basis no internal combustion vehicles will use it. (Attached at the foot of this article is a link to the recent Arup report on Guildford Bus Station)
> Should more consideration be given to running buses across town e.g. Link Park and Ride sites to encourage commuters to park cars at Merrow and access employment at the Research Park.
> Better Bus Lanes
> New Services and Service patterns
It is unclear how and when this thinking will take place.
(The picture shows the old Onslow Bus Station in the centre of Guildford)
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