Council deny bus terminus blunder

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A NEW multi million pound bus terminal planned as a ‘gateway to the city’ has become a highway to hell after tests proved it is too NARROW for buses to safely use, the Citizen can exclusively reveal.

In an epic case of blunder on the buses, the lanes of the almost-completed development outside Milton Keynes rail station have not been constructed wide enough for one bus to comfortably pass another, it has been claimed.

After a trial using their best drivers, Arriva bus company is understood to have expressed concerns over using the site for any of its scheduled 60 stops an hour.

The firm’s reaction this week prompted a series of meetings between council chiefs, engineers, bus experts and Arriva bosses in a bid to find a solution.

But bizarrely, in a formal press statement, the council has DENIED the problem existed – and even provided its own photograph to prove two buses can pass.

Now LibDem councillor Sam Crooks is calling for an inquiry into the ‘Bus-Gate’ fiasco.

This is a prestige project which we cannot afford to go wrong. We need an urgent investigation to make sure we can put this right,” he said.

Work on the £2 million Station Square facelift started in August. The square is being split into three distinct areas, one for taxis, one for ‘kiss and drop’ car parking and one for the buses.

But we can reveal the council was warned weeks ago that the 6.3 metre wide bus lanes seemed too narrow, particularly for one bus driver to manoeuvre past another dropping off passengers.

Peter Ballantyne, of the Station Reference Group, set up to monitor Station Square’s development for the public, said: “I took one look and thought: ‘this isn’t right’. Other people agreed with me. But when we told the council they insisted the lanes were fine.”

The group, which includes MK Transport Partnership chairman Alan Francis, requested a trial for bus company Arriva to test the lanes.

Said Mr Ballantyne: “Arriva used their most experienced drivers but it was just too tight... Our bus area should have the wow factor but instead it had the ‘ow’ factor.”

Anther protester is former city designer Ken Baker, who planned much of Milton Keynes’ original lay-out. He said: “There is no doubt the lanes are too narrow. I have never seen anything handled as cackhandedly as this project.

“When we planned the city years ago, we used to say that the devil’s in the detail. But it seems there has been no devil even detailing this one.”

The Citizen understands the council and Arriva are now agreeing hasty amendments, including widening one lane and lowering a kerb section so buses can swing over.

It is now know how much this work will cost.

But a council spokesman would not admit this was happening. He said: “The trials have confirmed the layout works with even the largest buses.”

He said the reason the buses had difficulty passing was partly due to the unfinished road surface.

“Further trials are anticipated and these will be used to assess other aspects of the design.”