Drivers 'threatening boycott' of Hanley bus station as council trials new layout
COMMUTERS and shoppers are being warned to allow extra time for journeys from Hanley bus station as the city council trials controversial changes which will see the number of bays cut by almost a third.
Transport groups say drivers are angry that the new £15 million station will include only 22 bus bays – down from the current 31.
They fear some drivers will bypass the station altogether on routes through the city centre.
The Sentinel revealed last month how 83 spaces are to be lost at Hinde Street car park to make room for stationary buses waiting to change drivers – because they will not fit into the new station.
GET READY FOR SUMMER WITH A GOLDEN SPRAY TAN .
WHETHER YOU WANT A NATURAL GLOW OR A DEEP BRONZE, COME AND GET YOUR TAN AT KEIDO HAIR AND BEAUTY.
£17 OR 2 FOR £25.50
Terms: QUOTE SPRAY TAN WEB OFFER WHEN BOOKING IN
Contact: 01782 917918
Valid until: Saturday, August 31 2013
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is to trial the changes at the existing bus station in a bid to avoid chaos for passengers when the new station opens in January.
It has already postponed the planned autumn opening to avoid disrupting festive trade as passengers and drivers get used to the changes.
Selwyn Brown, below, chairman of North Staffordshire transport group Aces, said: "The bus drivers are telling us that they have great concerns that the new bus station is simply not going to be big enough and there are going to be lots of problems getting in and out of it.
"They are certainly not happy and say it is possible they will use the routes around the station rather than going into it.
"We can only echo what the drivers are telling us and they are not pleased with the size. We will simply have to wait and see what happens."
From Sunday, nine fewer bays will be used, to mirror the new station design, and services will be concentrated on the central concourse bordering the East West Precinct.
It means passengers will have to board most services from a different part of the station, while bays are also being relabelled with letters instead of numbers.
Passengers are being asked to arrive early to avoid missing their regular buses. Station staff have been briefed on the changes to allow them to advise confused passengers, and leaflets with new departure details are being handed to visitors.
A First Buses spokesman said: "The city council will be changing the layout of the existing bus station in Hanley, resulting in most bus services department from different stands to their current location.
"It is therefore important that people check which stand their bus will be departing from, either by looking at the list of services above each stand, or by asking a member of city council or First staff who will be there to help during the first few days."
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: "We're doing this so both passengers and staff can get used to a different layout before the new bus station opens.
"These new arrangements are being put in place well ahead of the move.
"This new bus station will provide purpose-built public transport facilities in the heart of the city. It will be a marvellous gateway to the city centre, creating a great impression for those visiting the area."
The new station, which will include improved passenger waiting areas, a refreshment kiosk and toilets, is the first phase of Realis Estates' plans for the £350m City Sentral shopping centre on the site of the former East West precinct.