The following is a reader’s letter by Cllr Paul Wright of Sidmouth Town Council.

Having commuted for work into Exeter city centre daily for a full year, I feel I am now able to comment on Exeter. Millions are being borrowed and spent on the bus station project by the city council. However, this fails to tackle the real problems holding Exeter back and harming the health and wellbeing of Exeter residents and visitors. Traffic in Exeter is strangling and choking the city, holding it back.

Private cars entering and moving around the city during peak time increases journey times by up to half an hour. The bus from Sidmouth into Exeter takes an extra half an hour during rush hour even with the benefit of short stretches of bus lane.

Air pollution in the city centre is physically noticeable. Coming in from the fresh air of Sidmouth, I can taste the pollution upon entering the city. On days it reminds me of the pollution in I found in Delhi, caused there by hundreds of diesel generators providing electricity. In Exeter the same pollution is coming from cars, vans and diesel buses.

The city cannot be entered safely by bicycle. Cycle lanes are only in short stretches, forcing cyclists to keep returning to dangerous & polluted city roads.

So far the city council seem to have only tried to deter traffic by increasing car parking charges to £10 a day in city centre car parks. This appears to have had no effect on traffic, not helped by the major employers in the city, such as the university, Devon County Council, etc offering their staff free or almost free car parking.

Instead of the city borrowing £12 million to spend on the bus station project, that money would be better spent on:-

  • Investing in the bus service in Exeter to provide regular, non polluting electric buses (China are introducing 5,000 electric buses to their roads EVERY WEEK).
  • Building an extensive safe cycle network covering the city.
  • Investing in park and ride facilities around the city.
  • Phase out the use of diesel buses within the city
  • Building bus shelters with digital bus information across the city.
  • Build a new or modernise the existing bus station with a simple, modern bus station.

Other options such as charging employers for providing staff parking will simply raise money without reducing congestion. Having a congestion charge is unjust. Why should the rich have the right to pollute the city? Modern city dwellers don’t own or run cars. You’ll be hard pressed to find Londoners using a car to commute or in most cases even owning a car. Public transport is just 2 nature.

Exeter would become a far more attractive destination for investment without this transport created issues. A city with a modern, environmentally friendly transport system will attract businesses to invest. City owned carparks could be redeveloped to provide housing or modern office space. Residents will be healthier, with more opportunity to stay fit walking or cycling around their city. To some this will sound radical, but this approach is already being implemented in cities around the world and Exeter deserves to be at the forefront of this change.