|TRAVEL PLAN UPDATE
(Tuesday 13th August 2002)
With the Football League season underway, Wanderers' fans are waiting with interest on how far the Club have faired in the implementation of a much publicised 'Travel Plan'. The plan is geared to easing traffic congestion on matchdays at Adams Park and more importantly to the Club, its successful implementation is a legal requirement of the Wasps 'groundshare' deal.
Wanderers had their arm twisted by Council officials when the rugby deal was given the go ahead back in May but it's understood that since then progress has been slow. The original 15 page proposal stated "It is envisaged that most of the proposals in this Travel Plan will be fully publicised and implemented in time for the new Football League season."
The Plan, described in the loosest possible terms as a 'Green' Travel Plan, includes proposals to install 'part-time' traffic lights at the bottom of Hillbottom Road and to introduce 'Park and Ride' schemes from outlying areas. These are still thought to be a long way off although probably the biggest step forward has been the appointment of Andrew Gardener to the position of 'Travel Master'. He will be employed on match days to help control the flow of traffic in the Sands area. Gardener will be responsible for monitoring the number of cars parked in residential areas, a problem that has long been a complaint of local residents. Transportation consultancy firm JPM, have also been employed at a reported cost of close to £10,000 to advise the Club on the implementation of the plan.
The Club have also re-opened a dialogue with local residents. An open meeting was held on 30th July at Adams Park with Club and Council Officials present. The meeting was reported in the Bucks Free Press where it was subsquently claimed that the Club were threatening to appeal to the Home Office over Thames Valley Police patrolling of matchdays. Wanderers Director Graham Peart said "We are not allowed to deal with any traffic issues outside this stadium with our own staff and this causes a bit of a problem. The police at the moment will not send out a traffic warden to enforce parking. We are complaining to the Home Office about the situation. It is intolerable that the police are willing to deal with traffic problems after sporting events across the country except in the Thames Valley." The Police have denied the claims and say they send two officers to deal with parking issues on matchdays and that resources prevent any more being allocated. The press statements from the Club infere that Wycombe Wanderers are reluctant to pay for the Wardens even though the original proposal claimed "WWFC will contibute to the cost of the necessary Traffic Wardens to effectively enforce the scheme".
Clued up fans will know that traffic chaos has blighted Adams Park on matchdays since support for The Wanderers exploded in the early 1990's. Various traffic and parking schemes have been tried over the years but these have been largely unsuccessful and cynics are suggesting that the latest proposals are merely paying lip service whilst also attempting to divert the blame away from the Club.
The simple fact is that no matter how many spectators are encouraged to "car-share", the relatively large number of car parking spaces close to the ground, coupled with the restricted exit, makes Adams Park a traffic hell-hole with any crowd in excess of 5,000.
At Adams Park there are close to 1,000 car parking spaces within a couple of hundred yards of the ground, yet the one road entry/exit makes for a traffic nightmare after the final whistle, with some games taking as long as one hour to clear. An additional exit road towards Lane End is seen as just 'pie in the sky' by many observers. The only near viable option is seen as the routing of a road parallel to the existing road down the back of the Industrial Estate. However, funding for such a project and the protracted planning problems makes this a far and distant dream.
'Park and Ride' schemes will only have limited effect unless they are enforced by reducing the car parking near the ground. This was the route that Brighton had to take in order for their local Council to allow games at their temporary home in Withdean. The matchday car park at Adams Park is also very lucrative compared to the expense of adopting a true 'Green' policy and the Club would be reluctant to see this income lost despite the much publicised additional money being being generated by the Wasps deal. New 'Park and Ride' schemes have been suggested from Cressex Cinema or from the Wanderers' Training Ground in Booker. These were originally thought to be weeks away from being instigated due to 'local red but since this feature was originally published a trial scheme at Cressex Cinema, where the parking is free, has been introduced. The cost of the bus will be £2 adults and £1.50 concessions, leaving at 1.45pm and 2.15pm for Saturday home games. The scheme will initially run for six weeks.
Last season an average of just over 250 people used the matchday Bus Services to Adams Park and as Wycombe went into their first home game of the season, no new routes had been added. Indeed, one route, the Micklefield service, is being scrapped come November 2002 despite this being the second most used service behind the Wycombe Railway Station to Adams Park route.
One implementation that is to be welcomed is the provision of Cycle Racks at Adams Park. These are being provided free of charge and as an incentive a Club Shop voucher is being offered to regular users.
The most telling quote came from the local Police when they described the proposals to date as a mere 'band-aid' to the real problem. It's certainly clear there is no miracle cure to the problem and without massive investment by the Club, it's simply a case of educating people to live with the situation. Whether that will be enough to satisfy the legal requirements of the Travel Plan, remains to be seen.
Keep watching chairboys.co.uk for the latest 'Travel Plan' activities
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