Traffic Assessment (TA)
- The TA has identified that the AWPR junction will be significantly over utilised (3 x capacity) at peak times in the base case without additional traffic from development. This level of congestion is used as the measuring stick against which the traffic from the stadium is assessed. Although there is no planned mitigation of the forecasted congestion, AFC see this as a problem for others to solve. They do not plan to contribute to any measures to make the traffic acceptable to other road users. The TA concentrates on getting people in and out of the stadium and neglects to quantify the impact additional traffic will have on other road users.
- To keep west bound traffic moving before a game, it is proposed to reserve the offside lane and long stretches of the re-claimed central reservation of the A944 as lanes for queuing right turning traffic, allowing only the nearside lane for moving traffic. There is no assessment of the impact this has on local traffic.
- The traffic generated by the proposed stadium will be new to the area, and will be at times that will adversely impact the ‘work life balance’ of people using the A944. The TA presumes to impose peak time congestion on other road users when they will be endeavouring to enjoy leisure activities and generally go about their normal lives. The level of congestion is not acceptable, as claimed by the TA.
- By the time the stadium is built, the A944 will be the main road for the three communities of Kingswells, Westhill and Countesswells to access Aberdeen and the surrounding countryside. Unlike, other more central areas there are no alternative routes, and the impact will be more significant. The road system will be over capacity and there are no contingency plans for accidents or breakdowns.
- The TA places emphasis on the police controlling traffic, and infers that this will ensure there will be no problems. This puts an unfair onus on the police service to make a success of the traffic management, and identifies a scapegoat for any issues. The police service must take on additional duties of monitoring parking in the Shire, a task normally undertaken by City Wardens, as well as their normal match day duties of monitoring traffic, crowd safety etc.. It is questionable if the police have sufficient spare resource.
|Conclusion: The TA concentrates on getting AFC traffic in and out of the stadium, and does not assess the impact on the main A944 users. Three communities rely on the A944 to get out-and-about and the residents from Kingswells (2,000 homes), Westhill (5,000 homes) and Countesswells (3,000 homes) will not be able to go about their everyday lives when there is a match on. The police will control the traffic, but cannot magically make the TA work if it is fundamentally flawed.
Validity of the Traffic Assessment
The TA is based on the modes of transport determined from a survey of fans, and the number of car journeys is based on three fans travelling together in each car. These assumptions and the validity of the TA must be questioned for the following reasons:
- The number of fans using the various modes of travel is predicted by a survey. There must be concern over the validity and independence of this approach. The predicted reduction in the use of the car for an out of centre stadium is counter intuitive.
- The survey was undertaken by fans who, at the time, had no real insight into how they will travel to a new stadium. This can only be determined after people have tried various methods of travel and can make an informed decision. For example, when a fan who originally identified that they would travel by bus finds that this is more difficult, or takes longer than originally anticipated they will reconsider their travel options. The use of a car is the obvious alternative to travel by bus.
- Although the area is served well by public bus services, and the frequency of buses will be increased on match days; there is no plan to locate bus stops on the A944 adjacent to the proposed stadium. The TA assumes that a bus drop off point will be provided in the adjacent Arnhall Industrial Park, and that fans will then walk 800 m. to the stadium on a route that crosses the busy A944. The lack of bus stops at the closest points to the stadium will make travel by public transport less desirable. The diversion into the industrial park on a weekend will cause unnecessary delays to normal bus users.
- AFC assume that cars used by fans will have three occupants. This is only feasible when the car is parked in an area controlled by AFC officials. The occupancy rate of cars parked elsewhere cannot be controlled. It is understood that a more realistic norm is 1.4 occupants per car. Consequently, the number of car journeys and the impact on nearby parking spaces in the local communities has been significantly underestimated.
- The TA is heavily dependent on buses, and the current TA identifies that there is not sufficient capacity within local bus companies to meet the demand for buses at certain times. Any underestimation in the TA will result in demand for additional buses.
|Conclusion: The TA is flawed. It is based on a questionable source to identify the modes of travel. The TA underestimates the number of cars, as it assumes an unrealistically high occupancy rate that is out with the control of AFC. Even if the optimistic assumptions are accepted, the best A944 road users can expect is peak time traffic flows and the AWPR roundabout operating at 3 x capacity. There are no plans to mitigate this congestion. The TA concludes this is acceptable. It most certainly is not.
Exit Strategy in the Transport Assessment
The TA concentrates on clearing the stadium as quickly as possible, but does not assess the impact on local traffic.
At the end of games shuttle buses to various venues will ensure that the first wave of fans is cleared relatively quickly, but the need for some buses to return to the stadium for a second trip results in delays of 40 to 50 minutes before some fans can exit the stadium. Some will be tempted to walk along the A944 to Kingswells Park and Ride, with the inherent dangers of walking along a busy dual carriageway. Additional buses would be required to remove the need for second journeys, and to ensure the safety of fans. As stated above the supply of buses is already at capacity.
St Johnstone Football Club experienced problems with their Park & Ride system, when fans stopped using the service when the time to clear fans from the stadium was 40 minutes. AFC plan for the last shuttle buses to clear the stadium 40 to 50 minutes after the end of a game. This is hardly a good objective for a centre of sporting excellence! More shuttle buses are required to prevent fans walking and exposing themselves to danger.
|Conclusion: The TA is heavily reliant on travel by bus and has identified that there is not an adequate local bus supply. It underestimates the number of vehicles and underplays the significant impact on normal traffic on the A944. The effects will be exacerbated when the TA is re-evaluated using more realistic assumptions. The A944 is a main arterial route for local communities and the implications to the residents of Kingswells, Westhill and Countesswells will be significant.