A feasibility study into a potential Link and Ride bus service along the A4 between Chippenham and Bath has been published today (4 October). The study is the first of its kind to be undertaken on the A4 and one of only a few studies to consider a Link and Ride scheme in such detail.
Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) is committed to reducing the number of private car journeys into Bath. There are currently over 28,000 commuter trips into Bath every day, the majority of which come from Wiltshire to the east, along the A4, and the wider B&NES area. This will not only protect our World Heritage Site, but also help us achieve our goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, in line with our climate emergency and journey to net zero priorities.
To reduce car journeys on the A4, we need to consider a range of options, including improved bus and rail services. It is proposed to re-open Corsham Railway Station in Wiltshire, which is fully supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council, which would transform the way people travel along this busy route. However, as this is likely to take a long time to deliver, we need to find a quicker solution, which will help address our climate emergency in the short to medium term. Previous studies into a traditional Park and Ride site to the east of Bath, concluded that no suitable site is available. It is therefore proposed that a Link and Ride scheme could offer a viable, attractive and sustainable solution for those who live and travel along the A4.
Link and Ride works in a similar way to a traditional Park and Ride, by intercepting traffic before it reaches the city centre. However, instead of having one large Park and Ride interchange hub, which people may have to drive a long way to reach, Link and Ride provides multiple, smaller interchange hubs, at strategic locations along a set route, which provide for people arriving on foot, by bike or car (as shown in the below diagram).
The feasibility study tested numerous different scenarios to better understand how a Link and Ride bus service could work between Chippenham and Bath. The introduction of a series of small interchange hubs, in locations along the A4 such as Corsham and Box, could enable more people to walk, wheel or drive to a local hub, before catching a quick and direct bus service into Bath city centre. The study suggests the greatest impact would be achieved by building on the existing X31 service, along with a combination of lower fares, high frequency services and bus priority measures to cut through traffic.
Councillor Sarah Warren, deputy leader and cabinet member for climate and sustainable travel, said: “This is the first time we’ve undertaken a feasibility study into a potential Link and Ride scheme within Bath and North East Somerset. The study sets out our initial findings and recommendations and provides a good platform to move forward and discuss the idea further with the West of England Combined Authority, as the region’s transport authority, Wiltshire Council and local transport stakeholders, including our own Journey to Net Zero Transport Forum.
“If our communities had access to a quick, reliable and safe alternative to the car, such as a Link and Ride scheme, it could not only help tackle congestion and improve air quality, but also enable more people to consider leaving their car at home to walk or cycle to their nearest hub, as well as providing a shorter drive for those who still need to use a car.
“We appreciate that for a Link and Ride scheme to be well used and therefore commercially viable, it must be part of wider demand management measures in Bath, as set out in our Journey to Net Zero plan. It would also require bus priority throughout and adaptations would need to be made to traffic layout on London Road to provide for this.
“In order to better understand the wider benefits, impacts and viability of a Link and Ride scheme, we need to undertake more in-depth analysis, including community and stakeholder engagement, before any decisions can be made. This would help identify who would potentially use the Link and Ride, the type of journeys currently being undertaken, where the interchange hubs could be sited and how they could best be utilised. This would include safe drop off points for people with limited mobility or children travelling to school, as well as possible locations for our electric scooters.”
To read the full feasibility study, visit the council’s website.