The Big Challenge

 

We work with many councils across the UK, but few projects are as satisfying as our recent shelter installation programme in North Petherton, Somerset. And few projects produce the type of feedback we received from the Town Mayor.

“I have looked at all the sites over the weekend and as Town Mayor of North Petherton I wanted to write to you personally to say what a fantastic job has been achieved by your team, and so quickly too.” Cllr. Alan Bradford, Mayor, North Petherton Taunton Council

The Project

Externiture were approached by North Petherton Town Council in Somerset to improve bus stops along the A38 corridor. North Petherton is a thriving, growing village, which is situated on a major bus route to Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea. However, local residents had been underserved by the existing infrastructure. By addressing and improving the experience for passengers, the Town Council sought to increase public transport use, thereby reducing congestion and emissions. The previous bus stops also presented significant safety and accessibility issues, especially for disabled passengers.

 

Case study 1. Compass Inn.

Challenge:

In this ‘before’ photo, we can see the pole that shows where the bus stop is. No shelter is provided, and the shared cycle and footway would be obstructed by passengers waiting for the bus. There is only a small space for information, limiting its use to a paper timetable and offering no opportunity to improve the information provided to passengers. The post is in a soft grass verge, so the timetable is hard to read. The council identified this stop as essential to improve, as it is adjacent to a major new industrial development, which will attract lots of potential bus passengers.

Compass Inn 3600SOA10425 3

Solution:

Following several site visits, Externiture manufactured and installed a high-standard, enclosed shelter. Contained within is a large poster case, on which local information can be placed alongside a fuller and more detailed timetable. The shelter has been positioned on the verge, which is supported by a retaining wall so that the shelter does not interfere with the cycle/footpath.

The flag is now prominently positioned on top of the shelter. The shelter is fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The smooth hardstanding allows for easy access to wheelchairs and buggies. As well as providing clarity, improved access and means of shelter, it is important to note that no footway has been lost and that passengers can now wait clear of it.

Compass Inn 3600SOA10425 6

Compass Inn 3600SOA10425 10

 

Challenge:

On the opposite side of the road, the bus stop was indicated by a pole on a narrow footway in a layby. The footway is accessible, but not wide enough to accommodate an installation. The site itself is somewhat exposed, so it needed an enclosed shelter.

Compass Inn 3600SOA10426 6

Solution:

Externiture manufactured and installed a low-maintenance, high-quality shelter. It has been installed on a hardstanding and offers space for local information in the large poster case. The shelter is enclosed, providing a level of protection against the elements. The shelter has been positioned front of path, enabling DDA-compliant access from the existing pathway, which will no longer be obstructed by those who are waiting for the bus and unable to position themselves on the grass. The structure has been set back from the kerb, so it is sure to avoid impact from buses or other large vehicles.

Compass Inn 3600SOA10426 5 

Case study 2. Huntworth Lane.

Challenge:

Huntworth Lane is a busy stretch of road on a junction to the M5. The bus stop pole is small, hard-to-see for both passengers and bus drivers and obscured by overgrowth. There is a makeshift area for waiting, yet even that is inaccessible to many on account of the raised kerb. The bin is precariously balanced among weeds. Passengers who were unable to access the area by the pole were forced to wait on the lined area of the road itself, entirely unprotected both from the elements and, more importantly, vehicles travelling at speed. This stop is used heavily by buses and coaches, as it supports services for Bristol Airport. It was therefore important to provide a large area for passengers with access issues, as well as those with a considerable amount of luggage.

Huntworth Lane M5 360000176 1

Huntworth Lane M5 360000176 8

Solution:

A premium and long-lasting shelter has been installed. It has been set back from the road and positioned in a space that used to be overgrown with weeds. Externiture created a 25-metre pathway to the bus stop, enabling safe and easy access to all passengers. The structure is enclosed to offer shelter, yet easy to access from either end. The pole is now clearly visible.

 Huntworth Lane M5 360000176 6

Huntworth Lane M5 360000176 14

The above ‘after’ photo clearly demonstrates many of the shelter’s features. By creating a dropped kerb on the left as we see it, there is easy access for wheelchair users. The kerb then raises towards the departure end of the stop. This makes deployment of the ramp on buses quick and safe for the passenger, as well as easier for the driver of the vehicle. As well as the good level of protection offered, the design of the shelter provides a large display space, and the ability to modify the shelter to include further information, such as digital displays, when required. The bench provides ample seating, though the last bay is open so passengers with heavy luggage can sit on the end of the bench and place their bags next to themselves. This removes potential obstructions and frees up space for others. The bin is now installed properly and positioned directly adjacent to the stop, thereby encouraging its use. This new, DDA-compliant installation is far safer and much more attractive than the previous set-up.

 

Case study 3. Kerland Clinic.

Challenge:

The Kerland Clinic bus stop is used frequently in spite of its previously poor provisioning. An unsightly bin was positioned on a grass verge, there is no shelter and the area is overgrown. No provision is made for wheelchair users or buggies. Water also used to pool along the kerb at the bottom of the driveway. The location of the stop is not indicated clearly and the stop itself is unappealing.

Kerland Clinic 3600SOA10427 2

Kerland Clinic 3600SOA10427 8

Solution:

A full-end panel shelter was installed, which enabled protection from the elements while working around the manhole cover, which made front panels impossible. A hardstanding has replaced the grass verge, massively improving ease of access and safety while waiting. A new bin has been installed next to the shelter. To address water pooling, the gully was reset when the kerb was raised, alleviating a long-standing issue. The location of the stop is now clear and the aesthetics vastly improved. The shelter is DDA-compliant and provides ample seating.

 Kerland Clinic 3600SOA10427 7

Challenge:

The opposite side of the Kerland Clinic stop had a lighting column with a flag on it. The pole was in an overgrown verge and adjacent to a footpath that was also used as a cycle lane, as it is a very busy stretch of road. There were no means for passengers to wait for a bus without obstructing the pathway. The grass verge made access to the bus difficult for all passengers, especially wheelchair users who had reached the stop via the paved pathway.

Kerland Clinic 3600SOA10428 2

Solution:

The grass verges have been replaced by an accessible hardstanding that makes full use of the limited space between the railings and the road. Externiture installed a 3-bay, half-end panel shelter to ensure a clear thoroughfare while providing space for several passengers to wait. As the path leading to the shelter is an unofficial cycle lane, we ensured that the roof of the shelter is at cycle way height, making it safe for cyclists too. The shelter sits back from the road at a safe distance of 500mm, preventing damage to the shelter and ensuring user safety. Wheelchair users can now get on and off the bus safely and easily.

 Kerland Clinic 3600SOA10428 5

Case study 4. Moon Lane.

Challenge:

The Moon Lane bus stop is on the A38. The bus stop is rarely used by those who have alternatives, yet it is frequently used by a passenger in a motorised wheelchair. The only approach to the stop is via a slip road. The grass verge renders its use impossible, so the passenger has to wait for the bus in their wheelchair adjacent to a very busy stretch of major road. This is not only extremely exposed but also clearly highly dangerous.

Moon Lane access

Moon Lane before

Solution:

The passenger in question was isolating throughout the Covid crisis, so online meetings were arranged between the parties to listen to and address their concerns. The extent to which a solution could be deployed was severely limited by the road infrastructure and the installation itself had to cause minimal disruption to what is a key arterial road.

 Moon Lane 3600SOA10409 0

Externiture built a hardstanding into the grass verge. The dropped kerb means that the platform can be accessed by wheelchair users. The height of the hardstanding is elevated so it is level with the bus. The provision of an accessible platform enables all passengers to wait clear of the road. This dramatically increases the safety of the passengers and alleviates anxiety on the part of the bus drivers, particularly in poor light.

A new, taller pole has been installed, dramatically improving visibility and clearing it from obstruction due to hedgerows.

 Moon Lane 3600SOA10410 0

Externiture worked closely with all parties to ensure the smooth running of the vital project. This was all carried out during lockdown restrictions via online meetings and emails. Moon Lane was delivered at cost to help passengers in real need of a safe place to catch the bus, and in careful online consultation with the disabled passenger who uses the stop most frequently. Not only has this project made a real difference to this passenger but it has also meant that future passengers in similar circumstances can now wait for a bus safely, promoting its use and improving lives.

 

Conclusion and results

The case studies above demonstrate the careful application of Externiture’s expertise. Every installation has its own unique considerations, and a lasting solution can only be found following careful research by professionals. Meticulous planning that has the client’s and the passenger’s best interest at heart is the foundation upon which our success is built.

At every stage, Externiture have been at the centre of all discussions, providing a single point-of-contact for the client. To carry out a project such as this, a council would normally have to liaise with separate suppliers for the shelters, the installation and the groundworks. Externiture delivered the entire project. This results in a first-class and consistent end product and removes much of the complexity of project management.

The shelters that Externiture installed have made an instant impact that will be sure to improve the experience of passengers for many years to come. The North Petherton shelters promote bus use, which lowers congestion and reduces emissions, in line with the original aims of the council.

Enhancing and improving public transport provides increased social mobility and offers a lifeline to tens of thousands of people who depend on it.

The impact of the project has already begun to be felt, and we are delighted to share some feedback from the client.

 

Quotes from the client

“I have looked at all the sites over the weekend and as Town Mayor of North Petherton I wanted to write to you personally to say what a fantastic job has been achieved by your team, and so quickly too.” Cllr. Alan Bradford, Mayor, North Petherton Taunton Council

“These look amazing! Thank you so much for sending them on and please pass thanks to the teams involved.” Cllr. Bill Revans, North Petherton Town Council

“On behalf of the Council, can I thank you for the friendly, professional and helpful way that you have dealt with this.”  Cllr. Rodney Latham, Town Clerk, North Petherton Town Council

The project was so well received that the local paper, the Bridgwater Mercury, covered the success in a article, found here https://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/19258970.north-petherton-town-council-making-bus-shelters-nicer/?ref=twtrec