St Albans: Why closing Victoria St to cars but not buses is ill thought out

5 buses head down Victoria St in convoy

I was at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast last month where Cllr Beric Read (Con) spoke about initiatives to revitalise the town centre. Some of them seemed vaguely sensible, some of them completely ludicrous and this particular one very poorly thought out.

The aim is a noble one, to improve air quality and reduce congestion in St Peters Street, the main shopping street in St Albans. Many have tried in the past and all have failed- the part pedestrianisation was such an unmitigated disaster it was abandoned after a matter of months. This plan is also doomed to failure. Basically, the intent seems to be to close part of Victoria St to cars, basically making the Maltings car park entrance/exit an exit only, with a forced right turn away from the town centre. This would stop cars going up to the T junction of Victoria St and St Peters St.

Where this plan falls down is in the traffic that uses Victoria St in the first place. I walk down it at around 7.30am, up it at lunch time and at home time, I head up it again. In terms of road space, I’d have to say buses currently occupy at least 75% of the road. Even this lunch time, I happened to snap the photo above that shows 5 buses heading down in convoy. Needless to say most were virtually empty.

Of course the proponents of this daft scheme will (and have) said that buses are operated by commercial businesses and wouldn’t run the buses if they were uneconomical but it still stands that if so many buses are empty, perhaps it should be the buses that are moved from St Peters St and Victoria St, rather than cars. After all, ever since the bus station disappeared from the train station, St Peters Street is clogged up with chatting bus drivers sitting in the bus stops.