Councils join up to tackle Oxford's 'car dependency'


Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are to consider a joint plan to tackle congestion in the city and shift people from cars to sustainable transport modes.

Members of both councils will next week be asked to endorse a full feasibility study for the introduction of the ‘Connecting Oxford’ transport proposals, which also aim to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.

The plans include new bus gates and a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL).

A bus stop and traffic jam in sunny Oxford

Last month, the two councils, which have not always seen yet to eye on transport in the city, published final draft proposals for the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone.

Cllr Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for environment, said that without action, car dependency is likely to continue as more jobs are created.

She said: ‘The recent public survey on the concepts of Connecting Oxford underlined a widespread understanding that doing nothing to address traffic congestion in the city is no longer an option.

‘More than 60% of all journeys into Oxford are currently by car despite the fact that average car and bus speeds into the city are slowing. The Oxford Bus Company says that bus speeds in the centre of Oxford are now 38% slower than in 2006 and they have had to increase the number of buses on the road by around a third to meet their timetables.’

Key proposals are:

  • Three new bus gates to reduce the number of motor vehicle trips passing through the city centre
  • Two new bus gates in Oxford’s Eastern Arc, an area that covers north, east and south-east Oxford inside the ring road, to cut traffic on the B4495.
  • A WPL across the Eastern Arc
  • Those affected by the WPL, including employers and their employees, would directly benefit from grants for onsite sustainable travel improvements and parking management and discounts on bus fares, park & ride buses and parking and discounts on bike purchases

The councils said there will also be a significant and rapid expansion of Controlled Parking Zones across Oxford, including nine new schemes the county council has already approved for formal consultation.

They added that further work on the proposals will take into account feedback from the engagement exercise held in the autumn, which revealed significant support for change in transport in Oxford, including backing from Oxford University and the NHS as large employers in the area.

They added that several individuals and organisations, including some large employers, expressed support for alternative options, including a congestion charge or expansion of the WPL area.

Alternative options will be considered as part of the feasibility study at the next stage as required as part of the Department for Transport’s business case process.

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