So, Salisbury Bus Station has been sold, and it will close in the new year.

It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose; but I was interested by an article in this week's Journal about it. A local councillor, Michael Pope, has pointed out that while Wilts & Dorset have sold the site, and can in effect "take the money and run" (all £1 million of it), we are left with a cost of around £100,000 for setting up new bus stops and "lay-over" bays in the city.

Where will the new bus stops be? In Castle Street, Endless Street, Chipper Lane, Brown Street and Milford Street. The lay-over bays, where buses will be able to stop for longer than just setting down and picking up, will be in Chipper Lane and Brown Street.

I really hate to be negative and whiney about this; I understand the bus company have decided to sell the station, and the buses have to stop somewhere. I don't drive, and I use the buses regularly so I'm not complaining about their right to stop in Salisbury. But I do think this is going to be absolute chaos.

In last week's Postbag it was noted that a new bus stop has been proposed for right outside of the Royal British Legion, which will not only cause problems for some patrons of the British Legion - some of whom are disabled - but also a potential hazard if a fire ever broke out. Can you imagine 200 people pouring out of the British Legion, into a bus stop full of people which is itself crammed between several other bus stops full of people? I can't imagine it would be a quick, smooth procedure to get all of these people away from the burning building!

Furthermore, have you ever tried to push a buggy or pram along Endless Street? Even as it is now, without the extra bus stops, it's a nightmare. The pavement there is too narrow to allow crowds of people to wait for (inevitably late) buses in, shelters and the rest of us to easily walk past on our way somewhere without at least seven "excuse-mes" and a certain amount of praying that one's child isn't breathing too deeply as we pass through another cloud of smoke.

Castle Street and Brown Street are two of the main routes out of the city. They already suffer with traffic during rush hour with the existing bus stops. Brown Street especially is a nightmare for traffic at a standstill. Add to that the fact that schools being back means fighting one's way through a crowd of rowdy school boys in the afternoons. It's not the school boys' fault; the bus shelter is close to the road on a relatively narrow pavement, and there are lots of them waiting for the bus. I steadfastly refuse to step into the road with my child, and for the most part the boys pull each other out of my way and apologise as I pass. They don't mean to be an obstruction, but they are - because Brown Street is not very well equipped for a bus stop! When a bus does stop there, the traffic behind it usually has to sit and wait until it starts moving again, unless there is no traffic in the other lane. There is never no traffic in the other lane during rush hour. I don't understand where on Brown Street they think they can fit another situation like this. Isn't one enough? And a lay-over bay? Really? The only place I can think they're planning to put that is in the car park next to the nursery - the nursery which has parents and young children coming in and out all day. Hmm.

It's all well and good coming up with a plan for more bus stops, but whoever has come up with the idea does not appear to have noticed the glaringly obvious fact: Salisbury is an old city! It has narrow roads, with even narrower pavements. The buses struggle to get around the corners as it is, and you can count the number of streets wide enough for a bus lane on the fingers of one hand.

I don't know what the solution is, but I do know what it isn't.


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