Bus boulevard 'will probably end up nothing more than an expensive white elephant'

·3-min read
New CGIs of the bus boulevard in Swindon town centre
New CGIs of the bus boulevard in Swindon town centre

Bus boulevard will be a white elephant

I read with interest the piece by leader of Swindon Borough Council David Renard on the much vaunted bus boulevard and how it will improve connectivity.

He talks about helping to encourage investment in the town centre in the form of new homes, offices and shops.

I wonder if he's been there recently. I have nothing but admiration for the businesses that are still there and doing their best to survive, but it is such a depressing place. I've watched the decline since the early 2000s when I first came to Swindon.

For me the Covid pandemic revealed how precarious the situation was for retailers with rents and rates to pay on premises in town centres and retail parks. Swindon town centre looked to me like it was already struggling and I think that even with investment it will never properly recover.

People have discovered online shopping is convenient and doesn't need you to get in the car or catch a bus. You don't have to pay for parking in a multi-storey that smells of urine and you don't have to experience the drunks hanging around shouting and fighting each other.

The idea might be that people working in the offices and living in new flats in the town centre will want to walk to shops, cafes and restaurants, but I reckon that's wishful thinking.

For a start there are offices in the town centre that have been empty for years and people living in their little town centre boxes will probably want to go elsewhere for their leisure.

I think the bus boulevard will probably end up nothing more than an expensive white elephant when what the council could have done was to upgrade the bus station for much less.

Ruth King

North Swindon

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