A workplace parking levy (WPL) for Oxford is among radical transport measures to be voted on by both county and city councillors this week.

Proposals by Connecting Oxford will go before Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council’s cabinets on January 21 and 22 respectively, when members will decide whether to commission a feasibility study.

Connecting Oxford, a joint venture involving both authorities, proposes:

* New bus ‘gates’ which allow only buses and taxis through during most of the day, to be installed at Worcester Street, Thames Street and St Cross Road/South Parks Road in the city centre.

* The WPL across the Eastern Arc of Oxford, an area that covers north, east and south-east of the city – areas which are inside the ring road but outside the city centre.

* Grants for those affected by the WPL, including employers and employees, such as for onsite sustainable travel improvements and discounts on bus fares.

Two further bus gates at Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way on the Eastern Arc are intended to cut traffic on the B4495.

Connecting Oxford began work, including consultations with members of the public and employers, in September 2019.

It says money raised from the WPL will fund a new bus service, running every 12 minutes, linking employment sites around Oxford and beyond.

Cllr Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for environment, said: “The recent public survey on the concepts of Connecting Oxford underlined a widespread understanding that doing nothing to address traffic congestion in the city is no longer an option.

“More than 60 per cent of all journeys into Oxford are currently by car despite the fact that average car and bus speeds into the city are slowing.

“The Oxford Bus Company says that bus speeds in the centre of Oxford are now 38 per cent slower than in 2006 and they have had to increase the number of buses on the road by around a third to meet their timetables.

“Without action, car-dependency is likely to continue as more jobs are created. We will work closely with employers, commuters and residents to develop travel options across the city that allow for efficient movement to work, school and for leisure that have the minimum impact on the environment.”

If the feasibility study goes ahead, alternatives to the WPL will also be considered which may include congestion charging.

Stakeholder engagement will be carried out this year and a second public consultation will take place during this year and next. A Connecting Oxford Partnership will be formed, made up of employers.

* Image: Ewert House car park by Sarah Charlesworth.

© Thames Valley Property No 194 (tvproperty.co.uk)