These are my views of how I would like to see Gloucester develop. I have tried to develop them from accurate statistical facts and have provided links to those figures so the developments are possible given political will. I intend to add more subjects over time such as dealing with homelessness, parks and housing over time. Please make comments.
My Vision for Kings Square
Gloucester is a multicultural city of around 130000 people. It is only about a few miles the edge of Cheltenham with a population of around 120000 people. Together their population is around 250000 serving the Gloucestershire’s population of around 650000.
Culture, leisure, and entertainment
Gloucester has the potential to provide a rich cultural. leisure and entertainment opportunities for its residents. It has a good museums, Historic Buildings, a beautiful Cathedral,Robinswood Hill Country Park, cinemas, large and independant( the Sherbourne) , live music venues at the Guildhall and Pubs and a good library. It does not have a theatre, concert hall or Ice Rink . The latter two I think should be developed in consultation with Cheltenham as a joint project. Cheltenham has a good theatre , Gloucester has a premier Rugby stadium and team and Cheltenham has a league football club and stadium all of which would benefit and should be regarded as a shared facilities between the two towns imv. Good public transport links would improve that potential.
All these facilities should to be affordable to all residents which means those on low incomes have to have a significant increase in income or facilities have to be subsidised to allow all to enjoy and experience them. Or the best option imv a combination. I believe it is important for the cohesion of society for us all to be able to attend concerts, football matches, theatres etc if we wish. Our government local and national and whilst we are in the EU, European, should make judgements as to what facilities benefit the health of society and individuals in that society. We cannot have a healthy, compassionate,caring and civilised society if we exclude a large minority from being able to engage in enjoying many of the most fulfilling examples of human creativity imv.
Transport in Gloucester, like all of Britain is currently mostly by private car. As a consequence the air quality is poor and congestion of the streets and roads leading into Gloucester is bad particularly at peak hours. I believe we should be examining many other cities ways of dealing with the same problems. Eg Grenoble, Orleans, Besancon in France or Darmstadt in Germany. Their answer proving a viable solution is to dramatically improve cycle lanes and public transport. Gloucester City Council may believe that these solutions are too expensive but other city’s of a similar size have found a way to fund tramways, bicycle paths and good bus services, many of which are converting to electric. Their residents are not inpoverished or the cities bankrupted by their transport policies but seem mostly to be keen to expand those policies. I would like to see Gloucester invest heavily in a tramway, initially from the Quays, through the Centre , via Cheltenham road, Churchdown , Lansdown Station, Cheltenham centre to Pitville Park.. The tramway could also be used by buses, emergency services and possibly council services. The reason for having a tram as against buses, even electric buses on dedicated rapid transit bus lanes is that they are pleasant to travel on and most people prefer travelling on a tram rather than a bus. Also after the initial construction the maintenance is very low and the lifespan is very long.
It should be noted that Besancon in France, population 117000 a tramline has recently been constructed of around 15km in length, approximately the distance of Cheltenham to Gloucester. It has 31 halts and is expected to carry 1200 passengers an hour at peak times, ie the equivalent of about 24 buses an hour.The capital cost of the first line was estimated at €228 million, equivalent to a cost of €16 million per kilometer. 50% of the funding comes from a loan and a further 25% from subsidies. €20 million of those subsidies were provided by the city and a further €30 million from national the government (Environment forum). The balancing 25% comes from a variety of other reserves. The costs have been minimised by consciously avoiding complexity at the design stage and using standard tramcars without requiring a succession of adaptations to “meet local requirements. link
We can compare the spending of €228 million ( about £200million) on a tramway to the estimated £500 million it will cost for the “missing link” on the Gloucester, Cirencester -M4 route at Birdlip.
Nantes Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT)Articulated electric bus Oslo
However, though not my preference, it may be much cheaper for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane with electric buses rather than trams. Nantes constructed a BRT line that is popular and comparable with the Tram lines, it also runs.
The busway links four park and ride centres. It has been positively received by the people of Nantes and, today, the volume of passengers has exceeded all expectations. At the same time, the volume of traffic on the route from Vertou to the center of Nantes has fallen significantly from more than 55,000 passenger cars/day (2006) to just 28,000 passenger cars/day. This is almost certainly due to the huge time savings: instead of 40 minutes or longer by car during the rush hour, the journey on Line 4 from terminus to terminus now takes less than 20 minutes. link The system is so popular it has reached saturation and Nantes is now considering converting the Busway to a tram line link There are no zones and the cost of a ticket is about £1.40
Gloucester should invest in good quality cycle paths, as many European cities are doing . This is cheaper than public transport, could dramatically reduce traffic congestion and its associated pollution and would improve the mental and physical health of all who live in Gloucester. Dutch government expenditure on cycling was in 2010 approximately 30 Euros per person per year, over the entire country, all cities, towns and villages, and out in the countryside. This figure is on the low side because all levels of government include cycling components in their projects. Cycling costs are therefore often invisible. Cycling infrastructure is part of all new developments and is paid for by the builders of those developments. All developments and plans include cycling and it’s not usually considered to be something additional to the basic plan.
In contrast the current level of investment in England, outside London, is just £4, per person and after April next year we will see this already low level drop below £1 per person. Link
Above graphics from Concept of Sustainable Transport and integrated Land Use Planning An Overview link