The M25 and the role of express coach

The ‘Orbit’ mutimodal study that underpinned the recent decisions to add capacity to the M25 was published in 2002. The report was very clear that without measures to control demand that it would provide no long-term benefit. To quote: “Widening the M25 has been likened to digging a ditch in a bog – it fills up as fast as you dig”.

‘Newsletter 2’, published in June 2002, said that “the best opportunity for providing improved public transport in the M25 corridor would be a considerably enhanced, high quality, orbital coach system which could provide a real alternative for some existing trips on the M25″ (my highlight). The main features would be:

  • New services providing orbital journeys in two rings around London.
  • High quality vehicles with spacious facilities for on-board working
  • Coach priority (or high occupancy) lanes and traffic measures
  • Transport interchanges with good connections to other services with comfortable and secure waiting areas.

The executive summary went on to say that “The consultants do not believe that the development of such a coach system can be left to the private sector. They believe that it should be very actively promoted by Government and that for this purpose a Strategic Coach Authority should be established” which would define services, frequencies, interchanges which would then be franchised. The authority would also “secure road space from local authorities and the Highways Agency” to provide priority measures necessary to ensure the reliability of the service (my highlights).

So, what has happened with these recommendations… Err, nothing to my knowledge. In November 2010 the National Audit Office criticised the Highways Agency for being too committed to widening the M25 and failing to properly consider the potentially cheaper option of ‘managed motorways‘ with hard shoulder running’ and estimated that between £400m and £1.1b could have been saved.

Managed motorways would have been better for express coach given that it could be configured to provide priority for high occupancy vehicles. If the agency didn’t consider hard shoulder running properly then it is unlikely that it considered coaches properly either.

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About PeterEastern
Amongst other things I am interested in the overlap between information technology and personal travel and how we can remain mobile whilst also greatly reducing the negative effects of our travel.

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