Bus stop at the First & Last

Along with my co-councillor, Heather Morris, I have long considered the many options surrounding the junction at First & Last – where 4 busy roads converge: Cowick Lane, Dunsford Road, Buddle Lane and Cowick Street.

Yellow box junction at F&L
Yellow box junction at F&L

I had a faint hope that, with the First & Last empty for so long, DCC would buy it up and knock it down and widen the junction. Now that the pub is to be redeveloped for housing that dream has disappeared.

According to Stagecoach SW, the First & Last bus stop is the busiest bus stop in Exeter. I think that means 18 of their buses are timetabled to stop here, but after spending (far too much) time here, I often see that buses DO NOT stop as there are no passengers to pick up or set down.

And if there are passengers, the fact that Stagecoach don’t use the Smartcard technology they have on their buses, the bus remains at the stop for long times (especially in rush hour) as those passengers pay with cash – and need change.

So I believe the only alternative is to move the bus stop.

The case can easily be made – the junction only “works’ at present because of the yellow box junction…but as it stands the current yellow box junction is probably illegal!

Here’s the relevant section of Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 5
(v) the carriageway beyond the junction should be free from obstruction (this may necessitate the imposition of waiting or loading restrictions, or the adjustment of bus stops on the lengths concerned)
so the only way to make the yellow box junction suitable would be to move the bus stop!

The first point to make is that there is no out-bound bus stop on the opposite side of the road – the equilvalent stops are around the corner: the A to Alphington stops 50m or so along Cowick Lane and the E/F1/F2 Exwick services stop outside the entrance to Bowhill school.

In-bound there is a stop for the A bus on the opposite side to the road to  the out-bound one.

However, there isn’t an equivalent one on Buddle Lane – but if  one was placed in the lay-by by The Green Gables, the one at F&L could be removed.

Passengers alighting at F&L have 2 main destinations – the school and the doctor’s surgery

The school would be served by the new stop on Buddle Lane for children from the Exwick direction; those travelling from Alphingside could easily alight at existing stop on Cowick Lane, a slightly longer walk, admittedly

For pasengers wishing to get to the doctors’ surgery on Cowick Street, they could use the stop outside the Sawyers Arms – the distance from this stop to the pedestrian crossing to the GP surgery is exactly the same as from F&L stop (I know, as I’ve paced it out!)

DCC are ultimately responsible for the siting of bus stops – but of course, they would take guidance from Stagecoach SW on this.

And we must take into account the views of the bus users who use this stop.


One thought on “Bus stop at the First & Last

  1. Ben Bradshaw MP forwarded these comments to Mike Watson, MD of Stagecoach SW. This is Mike’s response.

    13 February 2015

    Dear Ben

    Thank you for your letter dated 09 February together with the correspondence forwarded from Cllr Bull.

    I think we share the concerns about this bus stop in terms of how it functions in close proximity to a busy junction. I suppose it has been a problem for some time because there are no easy solutions.

    This is a very busy bus stop for us, partly because it serves the top end of Cowick Street but mainly because there are a lot of residences within a short walk of the stop. It is also the stop where a number of services converge to provide a significant combined frequency of 19 buses per hour, which makes it s popular stop for catching a bus into the city.

    One of the problems with the junction is the amount of traffic going through it, particularly in the peak hour. It might be an idea for Devon County Council to review, not only the junction itself, but the wider traffic management measures in the area to see if flows can be further optimised. I have therefore copied DCC into this correspondence for their consideration.

    If it were felt that the bus stop must be moved or lost altogether, I would just ask that there is a proper consultation exercise on the matter so that our customers can have their views heard.

    I note Paul’s comments about our Smartcard technology. We are committed to reducing boarding times where possible, which is why we are loading more and more products onto our Smartcard system. Later on this year, we will be re-launching our internet sales offer, which will provide more ways to buy tickets off the vehicle and therefore improve jounrey times.

    I hope my response has been some help and if you want any further informaton, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mike Watson
    MD, Stagecoach SW


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