Queen Street Closure to Buses and Taxis

Our response to the County's consultation

16 October 2016

We repeat the concerns that we expressed earlier to these proposals.

  • The proposals appear to be designed to benefit the new Westgate development, at the expense of existing shops in the centre of the City and in the High Street.
  • The limited number of buses that have been using Queen Street have not, to our knowledge, caused any significant problems
  • Closing Queen Street to buses will make journeys across the centre (e.g. to the hospitals, university sites etc.) from the western side even longer in time and distance, substantially reducing the existing poor connectivity between east and west and north and west
  • At a time when new developments at the station/transport hub, the Oxpens and Osney Mead are moving the centre of gravity of the city to the west, the rest of the city needs to be more accessible, not less so
  • There appears to be no logic in the revision of bus routes and termini in the centre, including the railway station
  • The plethora of bus stops and the allocation of routes to each stop, e.g. in Norfolk Street/Castle Street and New Road, will cause much confusion to residents as well as visitors
  • The proposed bus turning circle at the junction of Worcester Street and New Road will make an already congested and dangerous junction even more so
  • Proposed new bus stops at the narrowest part of the High Street near the entrances to the Covered Market will (a) cause further problems for traffic and (b) hazards for pedestrians, who will be tempted (or even forced) into the road where the pavement is already extremely narrow
  • The changes will do little or nothing to improve St.Aldate’s, once one of the city’s most iconic and historic streets and now effectively a bus station
  • The associated changes appear to have been suggested with no thought for cyclists, a group whose contribution to solving transport problems is supposed to be a high priority (“Oxford – Cycling City”)
  • Access to the Westgate from the south and the new Oxpens/Osney Mead development will be poor, particularly for cyclists, with very narrow cycle lanes along Thames Street/Oxpens Road.

We consider that the time has come for the City to decide where its priorities lie: surely the main character of Oxford is its historic environment, not a retail experience. A complete re-think of transport in central Oxford is needed, to free up more of the historic centre from buses and bus layover spaces (e.g. at Magdalen Street East). A member recently counted no less than 26 tourist buses in St.Giles. The access of tourist buses, as well as the concentration of tourists in the centre of Oxford, also suggests that new tourism policies are needed to spread the increasing numbers more widely around the centre.