Poppleton Bar – delays continue as Council responds to Freedom of Information request

At the last Council meeting Councillors were told that all work on the Poppleton Bar Park and Ride project would be completed by the end of July.

No end to Poppleton Bar works

No end to Poppleton Bar works

However there is still a considerable amount of work outstanding with periodic impacts on congestion levels in the area.

While the final May deadline for conclusion of the whole Access York contract is long past, it is unclear why there are continuing delays at Poppleton (other than the obvious one that the contractors are simply not fully resourcing their contract obligations).

Cycle tunnel in use but no lane marking on paths

Cycle tunnel in use but no lane marking on paths

Councillor Ann Reid is now pressing for answers and some have emerged as responses to Freedom of Information requests

One (click to download)  confirmed that the whole Access York project – of which the Poppleton works form part – was due to be completed by 23rd May.

Details of the road closure orders have also been published on the Council’s web site

Meanwhile, the permanent traffic signals at the A59 junction with the Park and Ride access road are now in place, but the following work is still outstanding

  1. Considerable surfacing and landscaping work
  2. White lining (e.g. on the cycle path exit from the A1237 pedestrian/cycle tunnel. (If this is intended to be a shared cycle/[pedestrian space then it does not seem to comply with the specification agreed with the Blind and Partially Sighted Association)
24 hour lighting on new roundabout

24 hour lighting on new roundabout

Yesterday (Thursday) the street lights in the area were permanently lit. Taken with the decision to exclude the provision of on-site electricity generation from the project, this does seem to fly in the face of the Councils environmental policies?

Drivers now want a realistic completion date for the project.

Residents would also like to be reassured that there are penalty clauses in the contract which will be invoked to compensate the Council, taxpayers and drivers for the inconvenience and additional expense that they have suffered over the last few months.

Construction students present heritage sculpture for York’s new Park&Ride site

The Construction Division at York College has worked alongside main contractor Balfour Beatty to produce a fitting sculpture for the new Askham Bar Park&Ride site, owned by City of York Council and operated by First bus.

The sculpture, a medieval stone window in a brick surround, depicts the heritage of the city as the site is situated on the original roman road leading to the gateway to the City of York.

Council now claims A59 Park and Ride site completion date is Thursday 31st July!

On site wind turbine scheme jettisoned

Councillor Levene has now given a absolute commitment that all works connected with the Poppleton Bar park and ride site – plus associated works on the A1237 and the A59 will be completed by 31st July.

In an answer published to a question tabled at the last Council meeting he says,the contractors are scheduled to leave site by the end of the month.

The premature opening of the Poppleton Bar site has also been under fire although the numbers using the service are claimed to be similar to the figures at other Park and Ride sites immediately after their introduction.

  Month 1 trip numbers Month 13 trip numbers Month 25 trip numbers
Grimston Bar (1994): 3,889 14,525 21,891
Designer Outlet (2000): 9,606 18,495 21,524
Monks Cross (2004) 13,550 35,429 43,797
Poppleton Bar (2014) 9,148 (8/6/14  – 1/7/14)    

From opening, the number of cars parked at the new Poppleton Park & Ride site is between 70 – 100.

On a Saturday this increases to 200.

Electric bus on charge

With many of the electric buses running empty, the Council has been criticised for unnecessarily increasing CO2 emissions.

In response to a written question the responsible cabinet member has revealed that the provision of an on site wind turbine was aborted at the last minute. He claimed,

“the electric buses charge overnight at the First Depot in York. The electricity grid is off-peak at this time and of lower carbon intensity. There was a wind turbine in the design for Poppleton Bar however the supplier went out of business a month before installation. Officers are currently exploring alternative suppliers of renewable generation equipment for Poppleton Bar which could supply sufficient power for the on-site Rapid chargers which boost the range of the electric buses”.

Poppleton park and ride road works 28th June 2014

Labour Councillors have claimed that the decision to open the Poppleton Park and Ride site was taken by “officers” implying that they had no influence over the blunder.

Despite this 3 Labour Councillors were featured in a media photograph which covered the sites official opening.

Still more A59 road works to come

More traffic delays are in prospect as lane restrictions are re-introduced on the A59 near its Boroughbridge Road junction with the A1237.

The lane restrictions had been lifted for the Tour de France.

 Now, with work at the junction dragging on, further congestion and inconvenience for drivers is expected.

 The nearby Park and Ride site is also far from finished and the delays and the decision of the Council – to start bus services from the unfinished site – will be considered at the York Council meeting next week (17th).

 Questions tabled include:

 (xxxiv) To the Cabinet Member for Transport from Cllr Reid:
“Who took the decision, and when, to open the new Park and Ride site at Poppleton before work had been completed (the outstanding works on 9th June included car parking space, signage, traffic signals, road junction layout, layout, A1237 junction improvements etc) and when will all work connected with the Park and Ride site and associated road works be completed?”

(xxxvi) To the Cabinet Member for Transport from Cllr Reid:
“ What has been the number of vehicles parked on average each day at the new Park and Ride site at Poppleton and how many passengers have been carried by the new buses on each day since 9th June?”

Poppleton Bar Park and Ride site still not completed

The York Council has missed yet another deadline for the “final” completion of the Park and Ride site at Poppleton.

Poppleton park and ride car park 28th June 2014

The Park and Ride service was opened prematurely by the Council 3 weeks ago although essential signage, traffic signals, parking bays, landscaping  and improvements to the A1237/A59 junction had not been completed.

Not surprisingly, despite the novelty of being able to ride on the City’s first electric buses, user numbers have been very low.

Most bus services are running empty.

By Saturday evening carriageway surfacing had been completed near the roundabout but lane restrictions remain in place as work to access footpaths and the cycle path has yet to be finished.

The Park and Ride site itself resembles the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

It will present a poor backdrop for the TV pictures of the Tour de France riders who are scheduled to pass the site next Sunday morning.

TV coverage is scheduled to be beamed world wide and was one of the main reasons given by the Council for its £1.6 million investment in the event.

The Council has failed to provide any explanation for the latest delays nor for its decision to open the Park and Ride facility before work was completed.

The failure is the latest in a sting of misadventures which saw that Council forced to abandon plans to turn Monk Stray into a camping site and which has seen very low ticket sales for their highly expensive Grand Departee concert being held at Huntington Stadium on Friday.

They have, however, now added the popular local band HUGE to the concert programme no doubt ensuring that the Council’s propaganda machine will be able to refer to a huge attendance at the event!

Poppleton park and ride road works 28th June 2014





3 more weeks of road works at A1237/A59 junction

Council criticised for also closing Leeman Road alternative route from Monday

The York Council has been criticised by motorists for not delaying the start, on the resurfacing the carriageway near the Marble Arch bridge on Leeman Road, until the Poppleton roadworks were completed..

A1237It has now been confirmed that the  work is being undertaken at the same time as severe restrictions on the A1237 northern by pass continue to be applied.

The Council has issued a statement today saying,

“‘Businesses are open’, is the message City of York Council is emphasising whilst contractors complete overnight highways works in the north of the city.

Following the opening of the Poppleton Bar Park&Ride, the focus now moves to completing the highway works along the A59 at the junctions with Station Road, Poppleton and the York Outer Ring Road.

Contactors Belfour Beatty will continue to work at night in the area as follows:

  • · Week commencing 9 June:  working mainly around the A59/1237 roundabout using temporary traffic signals 8pm to 6am.
  • · Week commencing 16 June: working mainly around the junction of the A59 with Station Road, Poppleton using temporary traffic signals 8pm to 6am.
  • · Week commencing 23 June: finishing off the main roundabout surfacing and markings using a road closure of the A1237, for three nights between 23 – 25 June from 8pm to 6am. Surfacing of Station Road using a road closure of the Station Road/A59 junction for one night (planned for 23 June). Final surfacing on the A59 east and west of the roundabout using temporary traffic signals.


More use Park and Ride at Askham Bar

Askham Bar cycle parking in use

Askham Bar cycle parking in use

The new Askham Bar park and ride site on Tadcaster Road has proved to be popular with drivers.

Many have transferred from the, now closed, site adjacent to Tesco – making the most of the additional spaces now available.

At 11:00am today a small queue of bus passengers had formed.

However work on the site has still not been completed.

Official estimates say that it could be another 2 weeks before all the work is done.

Well used car park at Askham Bar

Well used car park at Askham Bar

Still the Council were right to bring the site into service as soon as practical. It has reduced the number of vehicles on Tadcaster Road and buses are taking advantage of the reduced congestion to run into the City centre more quickly.

The situation at the other new site at Poppleton Bar couldn’t be a bigger contrast.

Fewer than 100 vehicles were using the car park there this morning.

A substantial amount of work needs to be done both on the car park and on the nearby highway network.

Askham Bar bus waiting area

Askham Bar bus waiting area

Sources at the Council say that the project – which is 3 months behind its original schedule – will be finished in 3 weeks time. The contractors have apparently been given until the weekend of the Tour de France (5th July) to complete the works.

Unfortunately, by then, damage to the park and ride site’s reputation may be beyond repair.

Buses continue to be mired in a web of temporary traffic lights and lane restrictions.

Electric bus at Poppleton Bar

Electric bus at Poppleton Bar

Today, rather than a queue of passengers waiting for buses, there was a queue of buses waiting for passengers.

Ironically one of the major improvements yet to be commissioned is the cycle underpass on the A1237. This was to be used to encourage cyclists to pedal to the park and ride site before boarding a bus to complete their journey.

It will not be used by the Tour de France competitors!

New Park and Ride service hit by traffic congestion at Poppleton

click for video

click for video

There are two aspects of the new Park and Ride services which the Labour Council Leadership will be keen to avoid discussing over the next few days

The first is the crass stupidity of launching the Poppleton Park and Ride site before road works in the area had been completed. 

Another 2 or 3 weeks and the service could have been sold – to those travelling to the City from the north – as being a quicker, cheaper, congestion reducing and a more environmentally friendly way of accessing the City.

It is none of these things at present with traffic congestion as likely to delay the park and ride buses as those drivers who continue their journeys into the City by car.

This morning (off peak) the electric buses were taking over 5 minutes to exit the site and cross the A1237 junction.

Not surprisingly the buses were empty with only a handful of cars parked at the new centre.

The second policy – now relegated to the long grass – is Labours “Quality Bus Contract” plan.

When In opposition, they were keen to blame all public transport deficiencies in the City on the lack of influence that the Council had on bus fares and routing policy.

Labour’s solution was to introduce what is known as a “Statutory Quality Bus Contract”.

 This, in effect, is a franchising system when bus companies bid to provide services to a contract specification set by the Council.

Labour were warned in 2009 that their plan was impossibly expensive to operate and would only get the go ahead in areas where bus use was falling.

 Decisions taken in 2011 by the new Labour administration – not least scrapping the popular ftr service – meant that bus usage reversed a trend of several years and started to decline.  

However, more recently, timetable changes have reversed the trend again.

In 2010, when decisions on how to take forward a trial of a bus contract system were being considered, the Council agreed to trial the use of the franchise system in part of the City.

The area selected was York north west – essentially the Poppleton/Acomb to City centre quadrant.

One of the options was to integrate the new Park and Ride services with the stage carriage services in the area, providing a more frequent service for some parts of the Boroughbridge Road/Poppleton area.

It was likely that off peak services would have benefited considerably.

After spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on the miscalculated “bus contract” adventure Labour quietly abandoned  their plans some 18 months ago.

Unfortunately they now appear also to have ditched the promised integrated public transport system in north west York!



Electric buses finally make it onto York streets.

Poppleton Bar park and ride site

Poppleton Bar park and ride site

The Council are claiming that battery powered buses will run from the Poppleton Park and Ride site from Sunday.

If they do, then it will be due to the efforts of workers on the car park and Poppleton roundabout improvements which were still far from finished earlier today.

Battery powered buses were first proposed by the, then LibDem controlled, Council in 2010.

The introduction of seven zero emission buses on the new park and ride route now is due to a grant from the coalition government.

It is a step in the right direction.

However, there will be some concern that the new service is being introduced before works at the car park site (opposite the Wyevale garden centre) and on the A59/A1237 junction have been completed.

The new service needs to be a showpiece for the City – not just in terms of appearance, but also in providing a swift journey across a junction which has often been congested in the past.

We seem to be some days away from being able to guarantee that kind of improved visitor experience.

The new Park and Ride site at Askham Bar seems to be further advanced and should be ready for service on Sunday.

Approach to A59/A1237 roundabout


Businesses are open during Poppleton highways works

12th April 2012 Poppleton revised layout

‘Businesses are open’, is the message City of York Council is emphasising whilst contractors complete overnight highways works in the North of the city.

Works to improve the area surrounding the A59/A1237 junction in preparation for the opening of the new Poppleton Bar Park&Ride site have been extended because of unforeseen circumstances.

The period of night time working is being extended due to a number of unexpected utility services and difficult ground conditions that have been encountered. The works will continue to take place overnight to minimise overall disruption during peak travel times.

Access is available to all businesses and properties during these periods but drivers may need to follow diversions.

The overnight works are taking place as follows:

A59: May 22 – June 15 2014 (not including Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays). Nightshifts controlled by temporary traffic signals. No access to A1237 from A59 during overnight works (May 22 to June 6)

A1237: May 22 – June 6 2014 (not including Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays). Nightshifts under temporary closure from Wetherby Road (B1224) to Great North Way (York Business Park).

The temporary closure will not be implemented on Bank Holiday Monday (26 May) and for the remainder of that week the road will be closed at 10pm until 6am the following morning. Outside of those dates the closure will be from 8pm until 6 am.