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.