Unpopular public transport plan could return to East Reading

A "fast track" public transport scheme in East Reading is still highly likely, despite the "unhappy episode" of a deeply unpopular previous plan. Despite the failure and controversy over the disastrous East Reading MRT scheme, Reading Borough Council is adamant something needs to be done to improve congestion. The authority has released its new Local Transport Strategy, which is an ambitious plan aiming to reduce the town's notorious traffic issues and improve air quality.

East Reading is seen as a problem area and one of the worst bottle-necks in the town.

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The document says: "There are high levels of congestion, poor air quality, lack of public transport provision leading to unreliable journey times and a lack of continuous walking and cycling facilities in the east of Reading. "These issues have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of local residents, therefore the status quo is not an option and we must deliver a solution that addresses these issues. "A Fast Track Public Transport (FTPT) in the eastern area of Reading would provide a sustainable travel option, reducing congestion and improving air quality to deliver benefits to local residents."

What would a new scheme involve?

The plan says a scheme would link the new Thames Valley Park and Ride, as well as similar schemes in Winnersh Triangle and the Coppid Beech park and ride in Wokingham borough.

The authority is looking to work with Wokingham Borough Council to provide "enhanced sustainable travel options and deliver the East FTPT to address issues facing local residents". Options the council could consider in the future include:

  • A "tidal-flow" public transport scheme on the existing highway, probably in London Road (These are systems which carry traffic in one direction at certain times and in another at other times)
  • Options to improve travel via the railway and rivers
  • A new dedicated public transport route connecting the east of Reading and Thames Valley Park and Ride to the town centre
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Why does something need to be done?

The council's stats show there are between 300 and 550 vehicles exiting Reading at key times of day, and between 60 and 200 coming into the town via East Reading. The document says: "Traffic congestion and lack of bus priority on London Road leads to slow, unreliable public transport, increased operating costs and decreased service frequency.

"This makes bus travel less attractive, and limits opportunity to operate a greater range of bus services along the corridor." Councilor Tony Page, Reading's lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport, added: "A dedicated public transport road has to be an option. "There has to be public transport in from East Reading.

"I'd challenge anyone to tell me what we can do, short of land acquisition, knocking down houses and other crazy ideas that doesn't involve a dedicated public transport option."

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The East Reading MRT

Unpopular public transport plan could return to East ReadingAn early vision for the East Reading MRT

 

The East Reading MRT was supposed to be a bridge for cyclists, pedestrians and buses over the River Kennet. Reading council gave it planning permission, but ran into opposition from Wokingham Borough Council. Reading's neighbour twice refused the plan over environmental concerns.

The second refusal lead to Reading losing the GBP19 million in funding it had for the project.

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