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County Council Leader outlines his vision for transport in ‘Connecting Oxfordshire’

Published 03 April 2014

Connecting Oxfordshire public meetings are your chance to tell the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council your ideas as we explore the transport challenges facing us in the future.

Seven Connecting Oxfordshire Public Meetings will take place in the following locations, between 7pm and 8:30pm:

  • Monday, June 23 at Banbury Town Hall
  • Wednesday, June 25 at The Beacon, Wantage (formally the Civic Hall)
  • Monday, June 30 at the Littlebury Hotel, Bicester
  • Monday, July 7 at Henry Box School, Witney
  • Tuesday, July 15 at the Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot
  • Wednesday, July 16 at Henley Town Hall
  • Wednesday, July 23 at County Hall, Oxford

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I always look forward to getting out and about and meeting the people of Oxfordshire and there can be no more important issue to discuss than how we can improve our transport networks beyond 2020 to manage the projected housing and economic growth for our county. Transport networks must keep pace with housing, population growth and jobs. Now is the time to talk about how we’ll achieve that.”

A vision of a thriving Oxfordshire supported by a 21st century transport system has been unveiled by the Leader of the county council.

County Councillor Ian Hudspeth outlined how Oxfordshire County Council is rising to the challenge of ensuring that investment in transport matches growth in jobs, housing and hi-tech industry beyond 2020.

In ‘Connecting Oxfordshire’, Councillor Hudspeth looked beyond the planned £800m of investment in transport in the county to another wave of transport innovation and investment.

Around 80,000 new jobs and 100,000 new homes are expected to come to the county by 2031. As the transport authority for Oxfordshire, the county council plays a leading works with public and private sector partners to improve the transport network.

Watch Councillor Hudspeth introduce the vision below:

Transport investment of £800 million

As the number of people living and working in Oxfordshire increases dramatically, the county council is in involved in laying the foundations for a transport system that include:

  • The new Oxford Parkway station at Water Eaton as part of East West Rail, with improvements to Oxford and Didcot stations
  • Northern Gateway roundabout improvements and new link road connecting the A40 and A44
  • Improvements at Frideswide Square and surrounding area as gateway to Oxford
  • Improvements at Junction 9 of the M40
  • Improvements around Science Vale Oxford at Milton and Chilton interchanges
  • Bicester park and ride

 

County council leading way on economic growth

Earlier in the year the county council signed up to a City Deal with government that will see the private sector invest over £1bn – but that investment relies on improving transport links. The programme is designed to make the most of Oxfordshire ‘knowledge economy’ based on science and technology.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth said: “Oxfordshire is looking forward to a period of new jobs and great economic growth. The county council is putting plans in place to ensure that the county and its residents are able to make the most of this and thrive.

“The bottom line is, with such enormous growth and massive opportunities forecast – doing nothing is not an option.

“Connecting Oxfordshire starts a debate about meeting the long-term challenges and thinking creatively about improving the transport network to create a 21st century transport system that connects people to places and jobs.

“One of the biggest challenges is delivering a transport system that truly matches the county’s ambitions, but I think that the schemes we already have ready to deliver along with the ideas we have for development mean that we are equal to this challenge.”

As the transport authority, Oxfordshire County Council is about to starting consulting over its new transport plan. This is a strategic document that shapes the long term development and improvement of the transport network. Also to be called Connecting Oxfordshire, it will be a robust evidence-based plan for developing the 21st century transport system outlined in Cllr Hudspeth’s presentation.

Councillor Hudspeth continued: “We have a history of developing innovative and successful transport projects such as the world’s first park and ride, and now they are biggest and best used in the UK. Oxford also has the greenest buses outside of London and, with our plans for a new park and ride for Bicester and innovative schemes such as smart ticketing and mass transit

“You may ask how we will be able to afford any of this given that local government is facing an unprecedented financial squeeze. The answer is that the county council will invest what we can but more importantly will need to work with private sector investors and transport operators to develop the transport network of the future. Connecting Oxfordshire is about starting the debate on how we can work together to make it happen.”

There is already massive demand for transport in Oxfordshire. To put this in perspective:

  • There were 16 million rail journeys to or from Oxfordshire stations in 2012/3 (up 3%) and 39m bus journeys
  • The A34 carries 70,000 vehicles per day and the M40 carries 102,000 vehicles per day
  • Thanks to efforts to improve the transport system traffic on routes into city centre has reduced by nearly a quarter (24%) since 1993 – despite growth in the city and county
  • Oxford High Street carries around 180 buses per hour
  • 80,000 vehicles (including cycles) carry 130,000 people across the ring road in 12 hours every weekday.

Exciting times ahead

Councillor Hudspeth continued: “There are exciting times ahead. Towns across Oxfordshire are going to increase in size, with places such as Bicester set to double in size over the next ten years. We are also seeing the technology and knowledge industry Science Vale Oxford really take off and the county council needs to lead the way in developing the supporting infrastructure.

Artists impression of a potential Cowley branch line“We can’t rule out ideas that might seem fanciful, such as creating a passenger service on the Cowley branch line, a mass transit system into Oxford. And why couldn’t we create a monorail connecting key locations around the city’s ring road?

“This is not just going to be about building new things – we will also be looking at whether there are ways in which we can get more out of some of the existing infrastructure, such as the Cowley branch line, to help people get around more easily.”

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