Scar On Sustainability

Bridge over the new A477
Road to ruin
In terms of sustatinable integrated transport, the A477 St Clears to Red Roses Road ‘Improvement’ is anything but. I was aware of plans for the ‘A477 St. Clears to Red Roses’ road project, but not that work had started. I was therefore rather supprised a while ago when I learnt that the new road had been openned.

OS map of St Clears to Red RosesThe result of the project was the divertion of a section of the A477 (St Clears to Pembroke Dock) onto a new route of over 4 miles between Llanddowror, near St. Clears, and Red Roses, bypassing both settlements. While motorists probably welcome road bypasses, they are bad news for public transport. To explain why, let me return breifly to the topic of TrawsCymru. The review published relatively recently recomended keeping the journey time down by avoiding detours to serve villages along the route. Local services, such as Cardigan to Aberystwyth via Aberporth and New Quay, are important but are much too slow to attract anyone who has a choice to use the service for an end-to-end journey. However, if the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen service was to ommit Lampeter there would be a significant loss of revenue from passengers making shorter journeys.

A477 new road photo by St Clears Red Roses on Flickr
Speed For Cars
The ideal bus route therefore is one which follows the same road as the motorist, without any detours, but still passes through plenty of settlements that help fill up the bus with those doing shorter trips. Bypasses leave the bus providers with an impossible choice, use the bypass and lose the passengers from the town/village bypassed or divert through the settlement and lose the through traffic due to the extended journey time compared to the car. Modal shift in the wrong direction. In my interest of TrawsCymru and my knowledge that the Pembroke Dock rail branch is quite twisty, I have pondered a Pembroke – Carmarthen – Llandeilo – Llandovery TrawsCymru route. To my horror I discovered that, with the possible exception of Milton and Broadmoor, the bus wouldn’t have anywhere to stop and pick anyone up between Pembroke and Carmarthen (unless it made detours) now that the new St Clears – Red Roses section has been built since nearly everywhere has been bypassed.

Construction of new A477 road
Ribbon Of Destruction
So, not only has Pembrokeshire’s countryside been blighted by yet another ribbon of tarmac but the transport planners have put another nail in the coffin of sustainable transport. Will they ever learn? Apparently not, now they want to build a bypass for a bypass in the form of the M4 motorway round Newport (the big one in south-east Wales that is). We can only hope that does not go ahead.

The images used in this post are a little different from my normal practice. You can still click them to enlarge, but they are not mine. The photographs are taken from the official ‘St Clears Red Roses’, on Flickr and the map is from the Ordinance Survey, using their online OpenSpace API.