The New Oxford Bus Company Director Phil Southall has called for the popular pedestrianized street Cornmarket Street to be reopened to buses, to avoid traffic chaos during and after the redevelopment of Westgate Centre.
Referring to £400 million plans to create a new, larger shopping centre at Westgate by 2017, Southall argued, “If the Westgate development changes the focus of the city centre to the west, then buses must have good access to the West End.”
It is likely that due to the new development buses will no longer be able to run on Queen Street. However Oxford City Council leader Bob Price was insistent that the Council would strongly oppose the suggestion that Cornmarket should be reopened to bus traffic.
He said, “It [Cornmarket] is simply too congested and heavily used by pedestrians for this to be a sensible course of action.
“From the City Council’s standpoint there is an urgent need for more pedestrianised street in the City centre not fewer!”
Many students were also unhappy with the idea. Fresher Nathan Wragg pointed out, “With buses on Cornmarket there will be a serious risk of people who are in a rush or heading home from a night out getting injured; especially whilst they adjust to the change.”
Khalid Mohsen, a student at Pembroke, likewise highlighted potential safety issues. He told Cherwell, “Not only is it a dangerous change to make to the hub of Oxford where students, school children and local residents go all the time, but from a more logical viewpoint I never use the buses as I travel by foot or bike like lots of my friends, so it doesn’t sound like a change that would directly benefit the student body.”
Meanwhile English student Hannah Congdon commented “It’s one of the few places in Oxford that is free from traffic and bikes and so it would be such a shame to lose it.
“So many people use it on a regular basis that I’m not sure how everyone would be accommodated if buses were to run through it; there’d be people coming off the pavement!”
On the other hand the father of a Pembroke student thought that opening Cornmarket to buses could be a good idea on a temporary basis, having already experienced chaotic traffic in Oxford himself, “While they were doing extensive road works on the ring road I think it would have been fair to temporarily relax transport measures and I expect that the impact of this New Westgate Centre could be similar to those of the current road works.
“Improving traffic access through into and around the city should definitely be considered but they need to be careful if they do reopen Cornmarket to buses as people won’t be used to the traffic. An enforced speed limit could be a good idea.”