Page last updated at 19:35 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Sustainable travel plan for city

Queen Street in Cardiff
Further pedestrianisation of Cardiff city centre is on the agenda

Cardiff has been selected to become Wales' first "sustainable travel town" by the assembly government.

The 28.5m scheme aims to provide free cycle hire, bus travel around the city centre, and improved bike and walking routes.

The city will receive the funding from the assembly government and the county council over the next two years.

The money will pay for improvements to public transport, including a new park and ride facility.

If the scheme is successful, it could be repeated in other areas of Wales.

The plans will see free circular bus shuttles introduced in the city centre, a free bike hire scheme, new park and ride facilities in Pentwyn to serve the east side of the city and measures to tackle congestion.

The money also gives the go-ahead for the Pont-y-Werin pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Ely river between Cardiff's sports village and Penarth.

'Car clubs'

The council hopes to include further phases once the initial two-year plan is complete.

Artist impression of Pont-y-Werin bridge
Free city centre bus shuttle service
A new park and ride facility at Pentwyn
Improved cycling and walking routes
Final go-ahead for the Pont-y-Werin pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Ely river between Penarth and the Sports Village (pictured above)

The initiative will see 14.5m from the assembly government and 14m from Cardiff council, initially for two years but the council hope to include further phases after that.

Announcing the money, Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "Commuter levels in and around Cardiff have increased significantly over the past few years.

"This is an exciting opportunity to develop and implement a range of innovative transport solutions which will benefit the 210,000 people who travel into the city on a daily basis.

"This scheme will also support our physical activity action plan, which is currently being developed."

Improvements to the infrastructure will include better bus lanes and the future pedestrianisation of High Street and St Mary Street.

There will also be incentives to travel sustainably, car clubs, journey sharing schemes and free bike hire.

Danish experience

Jane Davidson, minister for the environment and sustainability, called the scheme a "win-win situation" for health and congestion, with increased bus and cycle use and fewer cars on the road.

"We have become far too reliant on using the car and we need to consider alternative, greener ways to travel," she said.

The scheme is backed by sustainable travel charity Sustrans Cymru.

Director Lee Waters said: "Thirty years ago Copenhagen had the same levels of cycling that Cardiff has today.

"Now, over a third of all commuting journeys in the Danish capital are by bike. Cardiff has the potential to achieve the same.

Iolo ap Dafydd on the bus compares a Cardiff city centre journey with cyclist Rebecca Roberston

"With a joined-up approach, we can encourage people to use their cars less and chose to travel in ways which benefit their health and the environment."

But Chris Yewlett, of Cardiff University's school of city and regional planning, warned that many people would continue to use their cars because of the "perceived benefit" unless public transport was more convenient.

"You have got to make public transport more attractive," he said.

"You have got to try and get public transport into where people want to go.

"If you have a system which has, as suggested, new bus stations all round the periphery of the city centre, then you have to get off and change buses or walk in past all the car parks to get to the shops, that's not going to discourage people from using their car on a park and ride basis.

"It might get the commuters to come on the bus network but it's not going to get the shoppers to come."

Angharad Griffiths of Consumer Focus Wales, welcomed the initiative and said:

"It's important that the new plans... consider journeys from the point of view of the consumer - viewing it as one continuous journey instead of a series of separate steps," she said.

The consumer organisation also wants steps to ensure that travelling on public transport at night was as safe as possible.

What do you think needs to be done to improve travel in Cardiff? Here are a selection of your views:

I use public transport as much as I can. I fully support the idea of free buses and cycles. I will also be using the new foot/cycle bridge... let's not all be so negative... we all need to change our ways!
Mary, Cardiff

Most of the congestion problems in Cardiff are caused by the council - take City Road as an example. After all the money spent on "upgrading" it traffic takes twice as long. Bus stops are deliberately designed to stop all following traffic - adding to congestion. Similar comments apply to Newport Road, etc. Not everyone can use cycles - and bus services would still take much longer than travelling by car, especially true if you have to change buses to complete a journey.
Gerry, Cardiff

As a disabled person, who cannot use the public transport system, Cardiff has become a no go area for me. The disabled bays have been moved to areas that if you can walk to the city centre from them you aren't disabled. If I could get the backing i'd take the council to court for breach of human rights
Robert Nicholls, Risca Caerphilly

I have just watched the article about buses v bikes. It was interesting to see that both arrived at almost the same time but surely if the bus had been operating a regular route and picking up passengers then the bike would have been the fastest. How about trying the experiment again with the bus stopping at all the bus stops !!
carol coleman, cardiff

Oh no! Another big announcement on transport in Cardiff! Let's hope it actually becomes reality this time, rather than just a press release.

You can't get many buses across the city without changing somewhere in the city centre. Why would you use a bus to get from Llanishen to Whitchurch when you have to got through the centre to do it?

The council really should stop tinkering around the edges and get on with providing a proper transport NETWORK. They might then stand a chance of reducing dependency on the car.
Greg, Cardiff

The idea of using buses is stupid, no-one uses them now to any great degree, they either don't go where you want or the bus stop is miles away. At night and evening time they are full of yobs and people will not use them, they are expensive and unreliable. the things use up a huge amount of space as they belch their diesel fumes all over the place. try going up Westgate Street, a huge queue of traffic and a bus lane with one infrequent bus and two passengers, ridiculous, inconvenience hundreds for two bus passengers. They should get rid of buses completely from the city centre and look to cleaner power, eg: electric trams.
Andy, Cardiff

How can Westgate Street take all the traffic: Buses, cars, vans, lorries, taxis, coaches.
E Pemberton, Cardiff

This is madness and a waste of money. Having to change vehicles is a huge disincentive to using public transport. Buses should be given priority access right into the city centre offering a real, direct,attractive, competitive option to the car. Presently they have reasonably good access but banning them from St Mary and High Streets will make them less attractive and is a backward step. Shuttles, even free ones will not reverse this.
Roger Davies, Kendal UK

I am eighty one years old and can remember when bus stations were round the periphary of the city - they were not a success. The new plans seem not to take into account the aging and/or disabled citizens
William John Sheppard, Cardiff.

The city has never explained properly why it never went down the tram route like Manchester, Croydon etc which guarantee no emissions and regular transport axes across the cities involved, have stimulated economic activity in the suburbs and thus reduced car use. Instead we got ungainly congesting bendy buses that are too wide for the double-parked roads.
GW, Cardiff

More rediculous local planning, I'd use buses, if they ever ran on time and went where I needed them to go. Fact is whenever I do try and use the bus service, they are unreliable and late. Cardiff buses seem to think everyone in Cardiff lives on one of the "aterial routes", Im afraid this is not the case! Most people arent going to walk 20 mins to get to the frequent service busstop or wait for the once an houor local service!

As for cycling, very idealistic, but are they aware of the weather in Wales. The reality is most of the time its raining, and lets face it getting to work soaking wet is not everyones idea of a good start to the day.

All shutting St Mary st to traffic has succeeded in doing is clogging up the other routes around the city centre. It was a farcical move, and now with the new shopping centre by the Hayes, so we need another pedestrianised shopping street?

Gareth, Cardiff

Bus travel in Cardiff would be made much easier and cheaper if return/weekly/monthly bus tickets could be used on ALL bus routes, regardless of the company that runs the route. In some cases paying for parking will work out cheaper than bus tickets for a day, if one has to travel on more than one bus carrier. Giving people the freedom and value for money of a universal bus ticket would encourage them to leave their cars at home.

The current system is also very confusing for visitors to the city, they buy return bus tickets and find they are unable to use them on all services. This is not a tourist friendly system.

I travel to work daily by bus, and must point out that I feel the bus drivers in Cardiff do a wonderful job, well done to them!
Edel Hempenstall, Cardiff

I visited Cardiff a couple of years ago and found most of its 'bus services were shockingly infrequent. They certainly didn't match the image of a capital city.

Cycling is great for the able-bodied when it's not icy or pouring with rain. Modern low-floor 'buses provide affordable, independent mobility for wheelchair users, people who walk with difficulty, people who for medical reasons cannot have a driving licence and anyone who doesn't want to get cold or soaking wet.

Before you pedestrianise any street, plan alternative access for 'buses, and for everyone with mobility impairments who depends on those 'buses.
Hugh Jaeger, Oxford, England

Look at what happened to the cycle path through Canton/Riverside. There are either cars parked all over it or smashed glass!

I'd love to see some improvement for when events/internationals are on. Getting across the city centre is murder and there is no information available on bus stops!
Chris Watson, Cardiff

What provision is going to be made for disabled people who can't walk? Are there going to be set down places where wheelchair users can get out of cars or taxis? Already the audience who would like to go to St David's Hall is lessened because disabled and elderly patrons cannot get within their walking range of the hall
margaret, Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan

This sounds like yet more no-go areas for those of us who, because of disability, can't use public transport. Every change to traffic systems I've seen in Cardiff in recent years seems to totally ignore disabled people's needs. I suspect my (already very rare) forays into Cardiff's shopping area are going to become nil. Only out of town shopping for me in future!
John Davies, Cardiff

Why is it that all the developments for Cardiff are to benefit those coming into the city, it's our City we pay the TAX's we should be the one's benefiting. If you want to just pop into town and pick something up you cant without paying 80p per 15mins to park, that's obscene!!! Why would I then pay 2.40 to go on the bus which doesnt take me from door to door when my hand's are full of shopping. All of the new developments seem to alienate the local people of Cardiff and just seem attractive as a shopping destination to other people, I'm not going to drive to a park & ride pay 3.50 to park to go into town to then go back past my house to get to the car park!

I love cycling but last year was knocked off my bike and left in the road, second to that I'm on my 3rd bike in 2 years after having the other 2 stolen. Also wouldnt it be better to spend a little more money on the quality of the roads? there are the biggest pot holes I have ever seen in this City, it looks like theres been a meteor shower and it ruins not only my bike tyres but my cars as well!!

I think I'll just move to Bristol, it's much better established and cheaper.
Suzie, Cardiff

Cardiff being the capital city of Wales should have a modern well designed bus interchange with the railway system at Cardiff Central. This could be built on 2 levels with less popular services and a bus parking area situated on the 1st floor. Will these free city centre circular buses be available from 0500 to 2330 hrs on a daily basis? I think not! Private cars MUST be stopped from coming into the centre of Cardiff unless it is absolutely essential. Loading and unloading should also be severely restricted, as when these vehicles block a traffic lane, considerable congestion is caused. Obviously more park and ride sites need to be created apart from the 2 already mentioned. People, especially tourists, should not have to make their way across to city to find onward transport to their ultimate destinations.
Philip Weaver, Cardiff - Glamorgan

That Chris Yewlett guy seems to know where its at. Its all about making public transport more preferential, reliable and affordable - then if necessary, dis-incentivising car use. Case in point: Food festival at Cardiff Bay on a Sunday. No train service down to Cardiff Bay on a Sunday...
Ed, Edinburgh

For anyone living outside of Cardiff town centre, particularly the east side of Cardiff where there is no rail network, public transport is not a viable option. The bus routes just don't support my travel needs and make my journey 4 times longer. Unless they put in a route similar to the one I take in my car, I won't be using public transport on a regular basis.
Rachel, Cardiff, Wales

I've recently started commuting on my bike to Newport where I work from Whitchurch in Cardiff. I have to say that getting across Cardiff is the worst part of the journey. The cycle provision is poor, and where there are cycle lanes they are usually full of parked cars which is frustrating to say the least. I'm all for using my bike more but the city has a long way to go to make it safer. Hopefully that will get a lot of the cyclists who ride on pavements on to the road as well.
Adam, Cardiff, Wales

I applaud the schema to improve cycle routs but I fear this will be more lip service to the green agenda. As a cyclist from the west of the city I am regularly forced out of the red painted cycle lanes because they are repeatedly used as car parks. What is the point of producing more routs for motorists to block if existing lanes allowed to become unusable?
Martin Williams, Cardiff

Laughable. We've already got buses coming out of out ears around the city centre they hardly move and when they do it's slowly, so the diesel fumes already cause a serious degredation to the air quaility, so please no more! As for the cycle routes we've already got miles and miles of those. It's just that most of us call them pavements! A park and ride for Pentwyn, well I shall look forward to that, as the bus ride in from there takes an eternity. Another lost opportunity.....
Jon Howell, Cardiff

St Mary Street needs to be fully pedestrianised as soon as possible. The way it is at the moment is too confusing. Private vehicles still drive down there, even though it has been bus & taxi only for over a year.
Nathan Collins, Cardiff

At the moment, the buses cause the congestion. We also have constrictions in the road that give priority to one direction. They frequently cause tailbacks, and buses especially can get stuck in them and can cause chaos. Bus lanes can be as short as 100 yards (even less) and these force cars into two lanes rather than three. Buses are the cause of the problem, but we need cars as thier catalytic converters destroy th soot they produce. Reduce car use in the city centre and you will INCREASE pollution. We need free parking, more parking, and keep buses off busy routes.
Alex, Cardiff, UK

Finally! Cardiff Council are shaping up and moving the city into the 21st Century. The proposed pedestrianisation of Cardiff Centre will not only benefit shop owners, but also the health and image of our city. It is about time that people realised that jumping in their car is not always the best option, the improvement in transport links will make sure of that. It's fantastic that Cardiff and Wales are leading the way to a more sustainable Britain.
CM, Cardiff

What about the embarrassingly old-fashioned train services in Cardiff and the Valleys? The reason the A470, M4 and other main routes are blocked is because the public transport services into the city haven't been updated for nearly 30 years. Never mind bendy buses in the city centre - if you can't get into Cardiff in the first place then they're irrelevant.
Dan Allsobrook, Cardiff

Cardiff traffic is chaotic and there are only the City Planners to blame. The number of brown field sites developed in north Cardiff, with high density and multiple occupancy buildings has saturated the suburban roads. Over the past 5 years north Cardiff has been grinding to a halt, and that is before you travel the 2 miles into town. Now, let's get on the train into the city centre - they stop running at 1900; and costs more than parking! Personally, I like shopping on-line and avoiding it all these days! End on a positive note? I cycle from Heath to Treforest daily to work. Cardiff drivers are considerate, cautious and give you room. Just a shame that the cycle lanes are sporadic, littered with street furniture (more road signs) and few dropped curbs along the way. The state of the road from curb to 1 metre out can be SHOCKING too! Will probably be knocked down tomorrow!
Simon Jones, Cardiff

My biggest gripe with the buses is that they still rely on exact change! For that reason, whenever I go anywhere on PT I use the train - maybe they should further develop the network particularly from Cathays to Ninian (for Canton or Chapter) which would be cheaper than putting in a metro or tramlines. However, I agree with some of the comments here that trams would make it more European (although this being Britain they would still have the yobs) and yes, Central and the bus station go hand in hand - we are lucky in Cardiff that it's small enough that we can have one hub and not several terminals dotted around like London.
Kelvin, Cardiff

the cardiff traffic planning process is sometimes plain crazy - from bendy buses that solve one problem and create another - that of stunted flow behind them, to proliferation of pelican crossings, too close together bus stops, and a bus service that sees some routes - cowbridge road east in canton from kings road to cardiff road is a prime example - where the daily congestion is so bad it is quicker to divert via romilly road and thompson park to arrive at the victoria park in half the time. I share those views on cutting down car use but there has to be a better way than this.

Great. Look forward to using the proposed 'park & ride and the bus carrying my non folding bike in a speacial carrying rack, like so many American cities have, into the city centre to enable me to complete my journey.
mb, Caerphilly

Not sure how Alex can say buses cause congestion - a bus can potentially carry as many as 50ish people (not seen very often unless you happen to be trying to catch it) while a car can potentially carry as few as one person. So one bus could potentially replace 50 cars. How does one 40ft-ish vehicle congest more than fifty 15ft-ish vehicles?
TW, Cardiff

Any sign of a late night bus service? I wonder how many other Capital cities in Europe have a bus service that finishes before midnight?
RN, Cardiff

The scheme is great, but the Assembly needs to realize that there is a country outside of Cardiff. During its existence, the authorities in Cardiff Bay have done little more than pour money into the city where it is headquartered. They should realize that this has caused great discontent in other areas and even calls for this second tier of government to be abolished. Cardiff is a pleasant city and I am happy that it is being revitalized, but if the Assembly continues to function in this biased way, it will soon be the capital of a third world country.
Steve, Swansea

if this works in Cardiff then other cities should follow suit. Take Newport, the last buses at night leave the Bus Station at 2300hrs.When I am on late turn I don't get into Newport off the train (that arrives from Swindon) until 2315 so I being forced to use my car from my house into the Railway Station and then try and find somehwere to park. Surely the last buses could run a bit later and cater for the shiftworkers. We are not all Nine to Fivers you know
Greg Johnson, Newport Gwent

It is a great move if it can offer viable alternatives to as many people as possible. Cardiff is a small city and should be that hard to do. One important thing though is instead of cramming in more busses we need to train bus drivers to not be so dangerous. I cycle commute every day in Cardiff and the most dangerous other road users are the bus drivers. Aside from the erratic driving the fumes and smoke from the busses is terrible. Why do bus exhaust pipes point towards the cyclists and pedestrians? Of course the bad bus driving isn't helped by the frequent pot holes and bad cycle lanes. p.s. BAN BENDY BUSSES.
SOR, splott, cardiff

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