Devon County Council has launched a public consultation on its draft Exeter Transport Strategy.
The strategy is being updated to reflect current travel trends and the needs of communities. It will aim to provide a sustainable transport system which supports continued growth in the city but also enhances the environment for residents, pedestrians and cyclists.
Exeter and the surrounding area has grown rapidly, with 15,000 new homes built between 2005 and 2015. Although traffic volumes have remained unchanged during this time, there has been increased demand on transport systems with rising levels of walking, cycling and public transport use.
One of the greatest challenges for the city is Exeter’s pull from the surrounding towns and rural villages, with its ‘travel to work area’ the second biggest in the country, behind Cambridge. Around 50% of people that work in Exeter commute in from outside the city, but the majority of Exeter residents working in the city now use sustainable modes of travel to get to work.
The County Council has helped deliver around £80 million of new transport infrastructure in the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point area since 2011. This has included junction upgrades at Junction 29 of the M5 motorway and A379 Sandy Park; new roads such as the Tithebarn Link Road and Clyst Honiton Bypass which have unlocked major housing developments to the east of the city; road widening at Bridge Road; strategic cycling infrastructure such as Redhayes Bridge over the M5, the E4 cycle route and completion of the Exe Estuary Trail. There has also been continued roll-out of Co-Cars car clubs, Co-bikes electric bike hire; new rail stations at Cranbrook and Newcourt in Exeter; and improved bus services East of Exeter.
With existing transport networks at capacity in peak times, additional capacity is needed to support economic growth, especially with the number of people employed in Exeter and on the outskirts of the city forecast to increase by another 25-30% over the next 20 years. However, the historic road network and the River Exe means there is limited scope for further road widening and highway capacity improvements.
There are three key themes set out in the strategy: ‘Greater Connectivity’ with nearby towns and the rest of the country; ‘Greater Places for People’ to enable a healthier, active city and ‘Greater Innovation’ to make the most efficient use of the transport network through new technologies.
These themes include more specific measures:
- Retain and enhance strategic road, rail and air connectivity with the rest of the country and overseas
- A consistent standard of sustainable transport between Exeter and nearby towns, for example, half hour frequency on rail services, high frequency bus services and high-quality cycle routes
- Double the number of Park & Ride spaces serving the city with Park & Ride sites on all key routes into the city to provide a sustainable travel option for those travelling into the city from rural areas
- 50% of trips starting within Exeter to be made on foot or by bike. Strategic cycle links will connect residential areas with employment areas and the city centre to support the aspiration to become the country’s most active city
- Improve bus journey time reliability on key routes into the city, enhance bus connections to key employment sites and work with operators to achieve a modern, reliable and low carbon network of bus routes
- Reduce the dominance of cars in urban areas and support the uptake of greener technology. This will include corridor enhancements, with particular focus on enhancing Heavitree Road, to reduce pollution, improve pedestrian safety and achieve more reliable journey times
- Introduce a single ticket scheme (similar to an Oyster card) and increase shared mobility travel choices, such as car clubs and cycle hire
- Test and help develop and launch new transport innovations
- Use technological advancements to better understand, operate and effectively manage transport networks with possible innovative car parking strategies to encourage longer stays in off peak hours and in the evening
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The ongoing growth of the economy in Exeter is a success story but it presents challenges for the transport network in the city. We need to find new ways to keep the network moving so that Exeter continues to be an attractive place to live, work, study or visit.”
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Liaison for Exeter, said: “It is the right time to refresh the transport strategy as travel behaviour is rapidly changing as we see technology impacting more on the way we go about our daily business. More people are working from home, shopping online and we need to plan positively for these changing habits and behaviour. I look forward to hearing what people have to say.”
Karime Hassan, Chief Executive and Growth Director at Exeter City Council, said: “We aim to make Exeter a city where active travel is promoted, and transport is not a barrier to accessing education, jobs, services or social activities. Our Corporate Strategy prioritises the need to tackle congestion and increase accessibility and the Exeter Transport Strategy sits squarely within these stated objectives. We wholeheartedly support it.”
Comments received during the consultation, which continues until Thursday 28 February, will help inform the Exeter Transport Strategy and action plan which will be taken before Devon County Council’s Cabinet in the Summer.
The consultation can be found online at: http://devon.cc/exeterts
You can respond online or post feedback to Transport Planning Team, AB2 Lucombe House, County Hall, Topsham Rd, Exeter, EX2 4QD.
For more information, or to receive it in a different format, please email: [email protected] or write to the above address.