COUNCIL chiefs in Swansea are likely to invest in transport schemes which benefit pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers in the main.
They want to encourage these modes of transport in and out of the city centre, particular as the indoor arena and other large-scale regeneration schemes head towards completion.
The authority commissioned transport advice from engineering firm Atkins to assess the current road hotspots and explore ways of improving the situation.
A council scrutiny panel was told that reducing people’s reliance on cars was a key aim – and one supported by the Welsh Government.
Cllr Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment enhancement and infrastructure management, said traffic levels had returned to pre-Covid levels in Swansea, but that patterns of car use had changed.
He said the council wanted to accommodate everyone’s transport needs, but added: “We have to change. There has to be more use of public transport by the residents of Swansea, Wales and the UK.”
Cllr Chris Holley said it was the fourth or fifth transport strategy he had seen over the years and that it hadn’t told him anything new, except for the policy push on walking and cycling.
He said: “Let’s be absolutely honest, we’ve got too many hills in this city to have fantastic cycle system, unless you are (Tour de France winner) Chris Froome or someone of that nature.”
During the wide-ranging transport discussion, Cllr Thomas and transport officers said:
– The council was keen to build a new park and ride at an as yet unidentified site in north-west Swansea
– Funding bids to the Welsh Government to improve the busy Dyfatty lights junction had not been successful to date
– Funding for a new link road through SA1, parallel to Fabian Way, had not been secured, although the Welsh Government had provided the council with money to acquire the necessary land
– The council supported the concept of small buses being used to pick up people from outlying areas and estates and bringing them to places such as Mumbles, where large buses could run straight to and from the city centre on a frequent basis
– The Welsh Government did not wish to continue building major highway infrastructure.
Cllr Thomas was pressed about timescales for new transport schemes, but he said it was hard to give them.
He said he was “very optimistic” about the proposed SA1 relief road running from Baldwins Bridge to Langdon Road because of the money provided thus far for land acquisition.
Stuart Davies, head of highways and transportation, said the road would ease congestion on Fabian Way but also be designed not to be a “rat run”.
Mr Davies described the Dyfatty lights junction as a “choke point” for cars and also as “hostile” for pedestrians and cyclists. Future funding to improve it, he said, could be linked in with plans to redevelop the nearby top end of High Street.
Mr Davies said he believed felt there would be a “step change” in terms of transport investment.
Cllr Holley said he recalled Welsh Office officials telling him around 20 years ago that Fabian Way would be improved, but he said it didn’t happen.
He said the park and ride site at Fforestfach was closed because not enough people used it, partly because the signs to it were “appalling”.
Swansea has a park and ride off Fabian Way and another at Landore, but the scrutiny panel was told it was hard to pin down potential future sites which would appeal to drivers to make the switch to a bus.
Cllr Holley said he believed the packed car parks at Morriston and Singleton hospitals needed addressing – and also wondered if parking charges at the new arena would be set at a level to deter car use.
Cllr Lynda James said thousands of people from Gower travelled to and from Swansea city centre every day, and that a park and ride at Blackpill seemed the ideal option.
Cllr Steve Gallagher said the Atkins report hadn’t told him a huge amount, and he wondered how much it had cost.
He was also concerned that visitors driving to the new arena could clog up the already busy Oystermouth Road when they turned into the adjacent car park.
Transport officer Matt Bowyer said peak arena times didn’t coincide with normal rush hour times, and added that signs would be installed in Swansea with real-time updates on available parking spaces.
Cllr Jeff Jones was keen to know if free buses for everybody at certain times of the day had been explored with the Welsh Government.
The council has trialled free weekend bus travel over the summer and also more recently, which has been a success.
Mr Davies said the requirement that people wanted above all else when it came to buses was reliability.
The Atkins report, which said there was spare parking capacity in the central area on a typical weekday, will be used to help inform future transport bids in Swansea.