Residents angry over £1 million bus lane scheme
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
A bus lane scheme which will save less than a minute on journey times, while costs have tripled to £1 million has been described as “crazy”.
The bus lane on Penhill Road in Pontcanna was originally expected to cost about £300,000 and is nearly complete.
Residents living on Penhill Road and nearby Llanfair Road are worried that the issue of traffic and parking will be exacerbated by the bus lane, with the introduction of parking restrictions as part of the scheme.
Some said they have also spotted a number of discrepancies with updated plans which they were shown in 2021.
Cardiff Council said parking in the area will become resident only through the scheme, “giving residents a better opportunity to park on-street close to their home”.
“Somebody should answer for that because it is public money,” said Sarah Mortimer, 59, on the cost of the scheme. “It is completely crazy.”
Helen Williams, 76, of Llanfair Road said: “The pavements are in a shocking state. I broke my wrist falling over the pavement.
“It would be far better to spend that money improving the pavement.”
The council said the initial £300,000 figure was an estimate from several years ago for a bus lane and that the scheme has since been updated with additional crossings and improvements.
Inflationary costs of materials and labour have also increased since the pandemic.
A freedom of information request made to Cardiff Council found that the time saved per bus journey on the new lane is estimated to be between 40 and 67 seconds, based on current journey times.
The highway scheme is mainly funded from the Welsh Government’s Local Transport Grant.
Stella Brown, 74, said: “It is ridiculous because the bus is going to only gain 40 seconds … 40 seconds for all of that!”
Amy Grimble, who lives on Penhill Road, said the money spent on the scheme could have been spent in a different way.
Amy, 24, said: “They have [used] all of this money which could have gone into just making the community a safer place in general rather than a 40 seconds off a bus route.”
Cardiff Council revealed its plans for the Penhill Road scheme years ago and public consultation commenced in 2019.
After a number of discussions with residents, the council made some amendments to its original proposals, including:
Reducing the prohibition of waiting/loading on Penhill Road from its junction with Cardiff Road from 34m to 15m north east
Removing Llandaff Fields Car Park Access Road, Conway Road and Llanfair Road from the restrictions of the original proposed order
Extending the prohibition of waiting on Penhill Road by 19m
Not introducing a loading ban over Llandaff Fields Car Park Access Road, Conway Road and Llanfair Road
However, some residents claim that the restrictions on parking seem to be extending.
One resident who did not wish to be named said that while reviewing plans against the work which was being undertaken, it appeared that the build out of the kerb on the northbound side of the road had been expanded, which would mean the loss of more parking space.
They also said that parking restrictions were being put in place on Llanfair Road.
Parking is already set to be lost on the southbound section of Penhill Road in line with the bus lane.
Another resident, Simon, said: “From the work that is being done, it looks like the plans may have changed en route as they have gone.
“It looks like [the road] is not actually wide enough for what is being put out.
“I think that is why we seem to be moving to this half on kerb parking, which didn’t seem to have been mentioned beforehand.”
Further explaining his point, Simon said the kerb is about an inch higher than the road level along a section of Penhill Road.
Simon, 50, added: “So it looks like there is the expectation that people will be mounting the kerb.”
Parking and traffic is already a major issue in the area, according to residents, especially while construction work has been taking place.
Llanfair Road resident Caroline, 51, said: “The road gets completely grid-locked so people use Llanfair [Road] as a short cut because you can turn left at Llanfair [Road] and join the traffic up to go towards Cardiff Road, so I can’t even leave outside my own house to get there.
“They are running their engines and the fume levels, you can smell it in the house so that is a real problem.”
Dave Cogan, 67, said: “We are just about managing at the moment. At this time of year a lot of people are away on holiday, but come the winter when everybody is back in situ you have got to plan your shopping trip.
“Can I take the car out? The thought of lugging heavy shopping these days, three or four streets… it is just ridiculous.
“Residents are annoyed because it seems like nobody listens at the end of the day.”
Penhill Road resident Aaron Davies also feels as though there has been no consideration for residents through the scheme.
Aaron, 24, said: “If we were to move out or do the shopping, then there is a bus lane right outside our house. You can’t pull up outside.”
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “Recent news reports have highlighted concerns from residents about bus operators reducing timetabled services, as the number of people using bus services has reduced; funding from Welsh Government to support bus services has reduced and concerns have been raised by bus operators about congestion.
“The council has responded to make it clear that the council is investing in the infrastructure to improve bus travel across the city, to make it quicker and a more viable option for residents, commuters and visitors.
“This new bus lane forms part of the strategic Western Bus Corridor, which will link to the Northwest Cardiff Strategic Housing Site.
“As with any development, there will be an element of disruption while these improvements take place and the council would like to thank residents and businesses for their patience while this takes place.
“One complaint has been received from a business in this area, relating to noise and vibrations from the work and an onsite meeting was held and it was agreed that the existing kerbs could be retained so no further drilling was required.
“While on-street car parking spaces are affected by installing a bus lane onto the highway, previously there was unregulated car parking in this area.
“Through this scheme, parking will become resident only, giving residents a better opportunity to park on-street close to their home.
“Residents living on Penhill Road are eligible to apply for resident parking permits for the parking scheme that is being implemented alongside the highway improvements.
“The council will be consulting with residents on a Residents Parking Scheme for the area, which will include Llanfair Road and adjoining streets.
“In terms of costs for the scheme, the £300,000 quoted was an estimate from several years ago for a bus lane to be installed.
“Since then, the scheme has been improved further with additional crossings and improvements to the existing facilities.
“Along with these additional improvements, both inflationary costs of materials and labour has increased significantly since the pandemic which has increased the cost of the scheme further.
“The council is committed to ensuring the highway network can be used by all users, not only for people that travel by car, but for those that travel by bus, cycle or walk.
“We are committed to building an integrated highway network, to improve public transport so that people are less reliant on their private car.”
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