A dozen buses an hour once used Wrexham's high street to pick up and drop off passengers. Today it's down to two or three an hour. From next Monday, there will be fewer because GHA Coaches are re-routing their services from Pentre Maelor directly to the town's bus station rather than via the high street.
This will cause problems for the many people with mobility problems who need to access the bus at this end of town. They include people from Whitegate who use the 41 and 42 services either through Caia Park or the Kingsmills Road.
And the reason for this switch?
Because the high street was re-designed some years ago to make it more pedestrian friendly. Unfortunately the designers failed to provide wide enough parking bays on either side of the road, which means cars often end up blocking part of the highway. This means that buses are often stuck for 10 minutes or longer as they try to negotiate the 100-yard stretch of road. Many minor accidents have also happened as a result.
From speaking to bus drivers, GHA Coaches and the council's Transport and Asset Management department today, there is deep frustration all round at the situation. We all want better public transport to ease congestion, reduce car usage and enable people without cars to get about - but sitting on a bus that isn't moving isn't going to encourage anyone to leave the car at home.
Since the deregulation of the bus companies, the council has no say in their route unless the council subsidises them. I have a lot of sympathy with GHA Coaches because the delays and accidents reflect badly on their service and they can provide a quicker more efficient service by going direct. But I am also concerned at the loss of service to the many people who use the High Street bus stops.
The most obvious solution - to widen the parking bays on either side of the high street - would apparently cost a six-figure sum and has been dismissed as too costly. But if that's not done, then we have an ongoing problem that can only be solved by changing the direction of traffic, making it one-way or banning cars from parking along the high street. None, in my opinion, is a good solution, especially as disabled car users are among those using the high street parking bays and we need to ensure they can access the town centre.