Plans to make it easier for buses to enter and leave North Greenwich bus station look like they have been dropped after Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe unveiled a legal agreement to replace the peninsula’s busway with a dual carriageway.
The 17-year-old busway, a legacy of failed plans for a guided bus service to the Millennium Dome, runs from just south of North Greenwich bus station to Bugsby’s Way, running through the heart of the Greenwich Millennium Village development.
Instead of the existing busway, which runs to adjacent to West Parkside, TfL and Greenwich plan to convert both roads into a dual carriageway from Southern Way, across John Harrison Way and up to the junction with Edmund Halley Way, close to the cable car terminal. There would be one lane for traffic and one for buses in each direction. (See detailed plans.)
Southern Way will remain for buses only and will have improvement works carried out to its drainage and lighting.
TfL and the council say the existing arrangement – with two two-way carriageways sat next to each other – is confusing, and has led to a number of collisions. A woman died after she walked out in front of a bus in January 2016.
But while plans consulted on in autumn 2016 showed an improvement to the junction leading into North Greenwich bus station, these appear to have been dropped from the final proposal. Plans for bus stops at the Pilot pub also appear to have disappeared from the scheme.
Just as in the original consultation, there is also no separate space for bicycles.
What is happening by North Greenwich station?
Firstly, plans for a new entrance road to North Greenwich bus station, straightening out a junction which gets congested on event nights, appear to have disappeared. Instead, a bus priority system is to be installed.
The 2016 consultation response from The O2’s operator AEG refers to TfL needing to buy part of one of the venue’s car parks, which sits next to the junction, for the road to be realigned. It is unclear whether this has been a factor in the decision about the junction.
Plans to rebuild the bus station itself, announced 18 months ago, have not yet entered the planning process.
What about the Pilot pub?
Plans for bus stops at the Pilot pub have also disappeared. 26 respondents to 2016’s consultation had disapproved of this idea. This means buses would still run 1.3km up the peninsula, past a park, pub and hundreds of new homes, without stopping.
What happens next?
The plans have only come to light because council leader Danny Thorpe has signed a legal agreement transferring the busway from TfL control to being run by Greenwich.
However, the cuts to the plans may leave the bus passengers of Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton and adjacent areas – who regularly endure overcrowding and delays while travelling to the borough’s only Tube station – feeling they’ve had a raw deal.
While on the peninsula itself, the plans as a whole were questioned by some Greenwich Millennium Village residents, who did not want a dual carriageway on their doorstep.
Thorpe’s decision to sign the deal can be challenged by councillors before 13 August – with commuter votes up for grabs, it will be interesting to see if any councillor does step up to question why key parts of the scheme have been dropped.
Sunday 6pm update: A report into the 2016 consultation on the removal of the busway says the changes in West Parkside – effectively the entrance to the bus station – could not be delivered until the opening of the Silvertown Tunnel, (which has since been delayed to 2024) which would run underneath the junction.
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