Walsall Bus Station: Dangerous by Design?

Tonight’s Express and Star details another crash at Walsall Bus Station.

I’ve covered this subject before 3 years ago, though one of the links in that post is now sadly dead, but you can still ‘enjoy’ the link to the architects.

In terms of form, I don’t mind it. It’s at least distinctive, though as I pointed out, it’s badly stained and looking a bit tatty in places. However, it loses badly on function, and on cost. 5 million quid, and it’s too small, and badly laid out.

That, along with the idiots in cars that don’t obey traffic signs (it is illegal to drive a private car into the bus station) and the complete failure to police that rule led to today’s crash: clearly if the cars had not been there, they wouldn’t have been involved, but fundamentally, the layout is poor:

Walsall Bus Station

The bus station from a Google Earth image. Click for slightly larger.

First of all, to enter, buses come into St Paul’s St at bottom right. They then have to cross the pedestrian crossing, where there’s constant pedestrian traffic, as it’s the only route to town (you’ll note that in this shot from Google maps, there’s a couple of cars in front of the camera):

The pedestrian crosssing in Google Streetview

After that, there’s a junction where traffic crosses- buses exiting the station cross those trying to enter, and there’s legal road traffic as well. After that, the bus trying to enter goes round into Hatherton Rd, entering the station at top centre- some are doing so in the picture. Once in, it’s likely to have difficulty finding a vacant stand, and has to avoid pedestrians on crossings under the canopy.

It’s shit. It flows badly, gets gridlocked, encourages pedestrians to take unsafe routes (it was modified to discourage this, but the new layout is even more frustrating), and it only takes a few cars mixed in, and a few impatient bus drivers, to create a danger.

It almost looks like it was built with a mind to Hatherton Road being used in the opposite direction (it’s one-way, towards the top of the pic)- that would allow buses to enter without crossing, and leave via St Pauls St- but clearly, whatever went on, it wasn’t thought through.

For once, I find myself in agreement with Mike Bird. He’s quoted in the article:

My question would be what are the cars doing there in the first place as they will have driven through a pedestrianised zone to get there. I would once more ask the police to enforce this.

We aren’t going to get the money for a new bus station but what we are in a position to do is get police on side and issue fixed penalty notices to drivers who flout this rule.

I do however, think that to have such a poor bus station at such high cost only 11 years ago seems like a bad deal. The old one looked shit, but it actually worked better…

3 Responses to “Walsall Bus Station: Dangerous by Design?”

  1. The bus station at the end of the universe « The Plastic Hippo Says:

    […] venerable and ever vigilant Pig Blog comments on yet another RTA at Walsall bus station. Thankfully, there were no casualties this time but the […]

  2. Tony Martin Says:

    There is now a contra-flow bus lane in Hatherton Road.

    The 2006 fatality in the bus station was the result of a bus being on the road in an unsafe condition.

    The Other Tony in Walsall

  3. stymaster Says:

    Hi Tony. Thanks for the comment. I’ve not actually been along Hatherton Road since that came in to being, so thanks for mentioning. This begs the question “why not use that as the entrance then?”.

    Would you agree that despite the cause of the fatality, the layout and the frequent car traffic make it more hazardous than it should be? Incidents seem disproportionately frequent.