Dissatisfaction around the service from Northgate Bus Station has been well reported and documented over the past four years.
Talking to drivers and regular users it is simply not big enough. There are 12 departure bays in the bus station and a further 8 for southbound journeys in the Drapery. This means that two thirds of the passengers have to wait in the Drapery for their bus. These departure points are not reasonably protected from adverse weather conditions Many of our residents using the buses are elderly with reduced mobility, or young families with buggies and small children. It is not right that they wait for buses in the open.
During the peak hours of 12noon to 1pm there are approximately 100 departures. From 7am to 6 pm there are on average 80-100 departures an hour. 1,200 is a huge number of traffic movements per day . The subsequent congestion and gridlock in Bradshaw Street and Greyfriars regularly brings traffic to a standstill. There has been a series of collisions involving cars and buses on surrounding roads and it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.
The design of the bus station -DIRO (Drive in Reverse out) is ill suited to such high level frequency services, resulting in hazardous tailbacks. Manouvering space is required for vehicles entering and leaving. Wide spaces are needed and the drivers' view is that the bays are only marginally wider than the buses. Reversing is tight with little space before the run through where buses wait for a vacated bay.
I believe that Northgate is not sufficiently large to this to happen safely
With all this traffic comes dangerously high levels of pollution which has been found to be 25%higher than the legal limits. The EU upper limit for nitrogen dioxide is 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Around the bus station 53 micrograms per cubic metre has been found. NBC pollution monitors have recorded illegal limits 80% of the time. In Northampton 6.1% of fatalities every year are believed to be premature deaths caused by air pollution. This is a Public Health emergency. Who would want to shop, or work in such an environment.
Declaring a single AQMA for the town centre is a move to monitor air quality but will not tackle the inherent problem of high traffic along the Drapery and the bus station. A Low Emissions Strategy will take a long time to make a difference to this area.
We ask for an independent and comprehensive Health and Safety inspection of the movement of traffic in and around the bus station and the levels of pollution. Then we need to look at ways to reduce the traffic, to ban illegal traffic along the Drapery, and perhaps consider re-locating part of the bus station to another part of town.