Tuesday 12th July 2022
It’s always good to see investment in new bus stations and the last few weeks have seen two open up for business.
Stevenage’s new ‘Transport Interchange’ has provided a real step change with a greatly improved waiting area for passengers in a purpose built building housing ten saw-tooth drive in and reverse out bays as well as a decent enclosed area for passengers including two unisex toilet cubicles and a third accessible one.
It replaces an open air rectangular space where buses pulled up at bus stops each with an individual shelter.
Construction of the new bus station began in late 2020 and has been funded by a £9.6 million Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. It’s part of a £1 billion 20 year regeneration programme of Stevenage town centre.
There’s no doubt it’s a much better environment for passengers than the old bus station but one downside is its location. It’s located next door to the large Arts and Leisure Centre lying across the dual carriageway called Lytton Way, just a couple of minutes walk away from the railway station …
…. it’s now much further from the retail centre of the town where the main shops are located. So better for interchange with trains; less so for shoppers.
There are eight seats by each of the ten departure bays….
….. together with a large area between them for passengers to queue to exit through doors which open automatically only if a bus is on the stand.
Each bay has an electronic departure sign above the door on which the information is rather small to read from a distance…
…. but there’s a much larger sign at the other end of the seats which you can stand right in front of and has a much easier to read ‘point size’.
The area behind the waiting area of each bay for pedestrian circulation up and down the ten bays is also quite spacious….
…. and there are timetable departure panels on the wall which incorporate a list showing which route departs from which stand.
The toilets are located off a pedestrian entrance area which also has seats ….
…. and a “Customer Information” point which was manned by someone with ‘Security’ on their uniform so I’m not sure how far they’re able to give out information about bus departures rather than be experts in security arrangements.
As well as static departure lists there are also electronic departure boards displaying both upcoming bus departures – over the next two hours too – and train departures from the railway station.
The bus station also has two retail units which so far haven’t been let, but it’s early days. Footfall is quite good so I’m sure there’ll be a coffee outlet before long.
The passenger waiting area isn’t fully enclosed at either end and I did wonder whether passengers waiting at bay A might get wet or windswept in inclement weather as they sit waiting for their bus.
It’s good to see a large circulating apron for buses to pull on to and drive off the stands together with a parking area for buses on layover.
One of the benefits of moving to this new site is the greater ‘footprint’ than the previous layout afforded, enabling a larger bus manoeuvring area to be incorporated.
Arriva are the main operator with their buses dominating the bus scene in the town but there are also appearances from Centrebus, Central Connect and UNO.
All buses pass through the bus station except for route 302 heading northwards to Lister Hospital which stop alongside the rail station at bus stop N.
There’s also a bus stop lettered L opposite the rail station for coach departures.
The new bus station has recently been awarded ‘Project of the Year’ at the Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire Constructing Exercise Club Awards 2022, so that’s all good.
There’s no doubt it’s a much more pleasant area to wait and catch a bus from than the old bus station and the greater space for both passengers and buses is to be welcomed as are the facilities and close proximity to the station for easy interchange.
It’s just a pity these benefits are offset by the new location being further away from the shops.
Planners are planing to transform the old bus station site …..
….. into a public realm showpiece including “a ‘pop-up park’ with informal play features and natural seating areas that face a performance area. This will allow spectators to enjoy the green space whilst enjoying impromptu performances. In addition to the large park area” …. is a… “proposed multi-purpose events zone, surrounded by seating and canopies. We recognise the importance of this being an active space even without events, so have designed the green spaces, seating and lighting in a way that will provide a relaxed environment for people to enjoy at any time of day“.
I’m sure shoppers will appreciate all that as they walk through, laden with shopping bags, on their way to the new Stevenage Interchange.
And, of course, as it’s all the rage these days, there’s a competition to name the new space replacing the old bus station, this time aimed at school children….
Remember kids, “the name and logo must be fun and enticing”. Good luck.
While visiting Stevenage bus station I toyed with the idea of trying another trip with the HertsLynx DRT service over to Buntingford. As you can see from the screenshot of the App at 10:56 below, it would have entailed a wait of nearly an hour to 11:51 so decided to give it a miss. Interestingly had I pursued the option of ordering the journey the previous day, Monday, the App had offered me a journey for 11:00 but I didn’t book it, wanting to retain flexibility on times until I arrived in Stevenage.
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