Long-distance coach waiting room axed from £8million new Exeter bus station

A new £8million bus station in Exeter will not include a waiting room for long-distance coach passengers. 

The under-construction new transport hub is set to open in spring next year along St Sidwell’s Point – the UK’s first super energy-efficient leisure complex.

Initial plans for the facility would have seen long-distance coaches use dedicated bus bays in Bampfylde Street as their drop-off and collection point.

A lease for a space on the ground-floor within The Barn student accommodation nearby had been secured as a waiting room.

But the Exeter City Council Leisure Complex and Bus Station Programme Board, at its most recent meeting, decided not to pursue the matter.

It opted to terminate the current lease on The Barn space.

Instead, the interim arrangement for passengers using long-distance coaches, with a drop-off and collection point from on-street stands sited in Sidwell Street, is expected to continue once the new bus station opens.

The meeting took place in September, but the minutes were only presented for approval by Exeter City Council’s executive last week.

Members of the committee agreed with the recommendation of officers not to pursue the provision of a waiting room for long-distance coach passengers.

Concern for the potential to place waiting coach passengers at significant risk of antisocial behaviour was the reason given.

It was also added that the Falcon coach service operates very successfully without any enclosed waiting room facility.

The minutes added that Devon and Cornwall Police raised a number of concerns which related to the safety of passengers and the public in an enclosed space.

They included the potential for antisocial behaviour and the increased likelihood of this later in the evening and early hours of the morning – encouraged by the attraction of a lit and warm area.

The minutes also said there was no requirement for a long-distance coach waiting room facility from a planning perspective, nor was there was any statutory duty to provide one.

It was added that the annual operational and maintenance costs could reach £125,000 per annum and coach operators had not confirmed whether they would contribute to this.

The report added that Devon County Council’s Exeter Highways and Traffic Committee could also ask for and explore with National Express the opportunity to consider a similar arrangement as the Falcon Service.

This sees passengers picked up on the outskirts of the city at the Honiton Road or Sowton park-and-ride sites.

The new bus station and St Sidwell’s Point leisure centre are expected to open in spring 2021 and are on schedule and on budget.

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