PLANS TO enlarge the University onto the Heslington East campus will include radical initiatives to control car use and encourage “sustainable alternative travel solutions” it has been revealed.
Central to the application for planning permission is the need to control potential gridlock around the expanded campus and the village of Heslington. To this end the University is planning to restrict car access into the site and develop a University Transit System (UTS).
The UTS or ‘bus’ will carry people around an extensive route, tackling the problem of movement between the two fragmented campuses.
Potential systems mooted include the ‘Philias’ Bus system, which has been introduced on the continent. Featuring electronic guidance systems, futuristic design and dynamic passenger information systems, “the optimum passenger experience” is promised.
However, concern has been expressed over the potential cost implications of systems like ‘Philias’ following the University’s announcement that they intend for the buses to be free for users. No evidence has been provided as to how such potentially expensive transport infrastructure will be funded at this stage although comparable schemes involving extensive public partnerships may give part of the solution.
Further worries rest on the ability of the UTS to respond to the highly volatile patterns of demand that occur within the University environment. A number of speakers at the recent City of York council meeting to discuss the plans for Heslington East expressed scepticism over a system, which is better suited to “conditions of continual movement such as airports”.
The ‘bus’ network will have to serve on the public highway as well, which will be effected by normal traffic. Planners evidently have a lot of work to do to make this system work and at a price, which is both fair and sustainable.