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Friday, 5 December 2014

Colchester's Transport Chaos

Although I don't myself drive, I am well aware of the constant traffic congestion at peak times in Colchester. I recently caught a taxi home from the main railway station during the evening rush hour which took far longer than it should due to constant jams on Balkerne Hill, Southway and beyond. I'm constantly hearing about what should be relatively short journeys taking an inordinate amount of time because of this. Students unable to get to college on time because the bus is stuck in stationary traffic, which often consists of cars with only one person in them, is common as is the problem of half-empty buses just driving past the people waiting at the bus stops for no obvious reason. One person recently informed me that the bus regularly, "turns round before it gets to our stop in order to save time", despite the fact that said stop is on the driver's allotted route.Clearly instances such as the latter prompt complaints, yet the problems go on, and on and on.... Rude drivers are undoubtedly a minority however this minority can tar the majority with their grumpy brush. When I once paid some of my fare with a build up of coppers in my wallet, the comment was something along the lines of:
"Huh, getting rid of your rubbish are you mate? You've got a nerve", before the coins were flung angrily into a greasy looking sack.

And don't expect the railways to be much better. The trains to London are often standing room only during the commuter run in the morning, as I have found myself on my infrequent trips to exam board meetings in the smoke.And this is then followed by the impossible challenge of fitting into the jammed full tube trains on the central line.... but that's another matter. All of this with another huge hike in railway fares on the horizon.

Unfortunately the root causes of the problems are over development, lack of investment in public transport and bus deregulation. Colchester has grown massively in the last 15 years with hundreds of new residents and cars. Yet since the 1980s bus services have been deregulated and have become unreliable and unattractive. It is clearly the case that we need to be encouraging car sharing in order to reverse the volume of traffic on our roads however we also need to strive to make public transport a viable alternative to using the car, rather than something people avoid like the plague.
The grey political parties have completely failed Colchester on this issue.I read a lot about awful suggestions in the Gazette & Standard, such as building massive relief roads through Highwoods Country Park, however this is a fallacy. The new roads would just quickly fill up with the same congestion. What is needed is the kind of radical green change that can only stem from national policy.

1) All bus services should be re-regulated on a national level. The Green Party would spend £1.5 billion on subsidising existing public transport to make fares 10% cheaper. Bus companies who continue to fail to deliver an adequate service should face financial penalties and the bringing back of inspectors should be encouraged.

2) The Green Party is currently engaged in a national campaign against rail fare increases. We would take the railways back into public ownership to prevent arbitrary price hikes and random cuts to services.

3) Green Party policy states that the £30 billion that the government has allocated to road building schemes over the next ten years should be diverted and invested in public transport expansion over the next parliament. That way we use existing funds and avoid concreting over the countryside.

4) Green Party policy is that least 10% of transport spending should be on expanding cycle lanes and making cycling a safer option.

5) We need to reform the planning regulations so that housing development proposals cannot go ahead without any regard to the impact on transport congestion.


  1. Agree with the options however with the Cycle lanes, we don't want those dangerous painted lines that drivers ignore & drive or park in. I rather see the 10% of transport funds use to create proper segregated cycleways. It can be done & proven it can in other countries & once we can provide this then we can discourage the 50+% of travelling that is less than 5 miles to use cycle ways &/or cheaper & more reliable public transport. So far we have neither so most would sit in their cars & clog the roads.