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Canterbury tram system 'could ease traffic congestion' in city

A tram system and other potential solutions to traffic woes in Canterbury are set to be researched by council bosses.

Authority leader Ben Fitter-Harding says the city’s appeal is at risk of falling behind that of other places unless plans to rethink its clogged-up road network are dreamt up.

Would trams, as pictured here in Dijon in France, work well in Canterbury?
Would trams, as pictured here in Dijon in France, work well in Canterbury?

Stressing that “no idea is off the table”, he is proposing to dig deep into the pros and cons of the current park and ride system as he looks to overhaul the way visitors and residents are ferried around the city.

“If I went somewhere else I don’t think I’d want to have to park up, get on a bus which gets stuck in traffic and then arrive in the city”, he said.

“It’s about finding new ways of getting people to their desired locations quicker - however that may be. It could be fast bus routes or trams for example.

“There may well be a lot we could do with those type of things. Obviously it would all need to be looked into and I don’t know how it could work yet, but I want to be ambitious so no idea is off the table.

“If you get on the park and ride at Sturry, you then get stuck in congestion as there isn’t a full bus lane along the route.

Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding says no idea is off the table
Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding says no idea is off the table

“For workers here all day, that is the affordable option but is it the best it can be?”

Last year, in a report commissioned by Kent County Council, traffic experts concluded the city’s ring-road had reached breaking point and must be redesigned in order to avoid further gridlock hell.

With thousands of homes due to be built by 2031, they stressed the current road system could not cope with a projected 16% increase in vehicles.

Councillors previously agreed to continue testing new designs and explore the ring-road’s development further, but no ideas have been suggested.

Cllr Fitter-Harding says the city cannot afford to stagnate and allow issues to get worse.

Congestion is a regular sight on the city's ring-road
Congestion is a regular sight on the city's ring-road

“If we don’t develop then I fear Canterbury will get restrained and will be left behind by other cities,” he said.

“So we need to look at how other areas are operating and what ideas they are bringing forward. “We need to unlock its full potential.” - that doesn’t just mean the city but also Herne Bay and Whitstable.

“We need to be optimistic. You can’t simply achieve modal shift by making things you want to change more unpleasant for people.

“There’s nothing stopping us from exploring these ideas and making positive changes which can shape the city for the next 20 years. It’s just the will to get things done has got to be there.”

As part of the recently revealed budget, rather than switch to electric, the council is set to stick with its current fleet of diesel park and ride buses for the next eight years.

A tram system in Nottingham
A tram system in Nottingham

Due to current finances, it is deemed too costly to move to electric, however, Cllr Fitter-Harding says that isn’t to say a change cannot be made in the coming years.

This month a year-long trial of electric scooters was also rolled out in the districts.

Up to 100 scooters are available to use in Canterbury after Kent County Council (KCC) was successful in bidding for the pilot, which was given the green light by the Department for Transport.

Avoid getting stuck on Kent's roads by keeping up-to-date on all of the latest traffic and travel news here or by following our live blog.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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