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New bus station earns its stripes

By Danny Boyle
New zebra crossing at Chatham bus station
New zebra crossing at Chatham bus station

You wait ages for a zebra crossing, then they all come at once.

Stripes have been painted on the road at Chatham's £7 million bus station, which was six months behind schedule and £2 million over its original budget, after a torrent of complaints.

The outdoor "dynamic bus facility" in Globe Lane opened last Monday but without bins, toilets or zebra crossings, prompting safety fears among passengers.

Cllr Mike O'Brien (Con), who visited after the crossings were put in, said: "Obviously there were a few teething problems but it seems to be working. Something needed to be done - the old bus station was dark and dismal and dank."

Yet Cllr Vince Maple (Lab) said: "Clearly it still isn't finished. They should have had a safe bus station from the moment it opened. It's unacceptable."

Workmen took over the information centre, which bore racks of leaflets saying "it's ready - are you?', to paint the road last week.

Some shoppers were pleased with the improvements. Lisa Hunt, 33, from Hoo, said: "No one likes change, and I think it's better.

"It's good now the zebra crossings are here, but it's not rocket science - don't walk out in front of a bus."

Others were more sceptical, including Mike Wetson, 28, who said: "It would have been a nice idea if they had just listened to what people were saying. There aren't enough seats, they aren't close enough to the stands and there are still no bins."

Sheila Purser, 65, from Wainscott, added: "It could have been more covered up. At least in the Pentagon you were dry."

Last month the council paid £300,000 to take over the lease on theformer Pentagon Centre bus station, which it is now turning into a free car park for council staff.

If the plans go ahead, it will be open to the public on weekends, but have signs saying "Private Parking - No Unauthorised Entry", and a swipe card system for staff.

What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below
What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below

Cllr Maple warned the move would be "very unpopular with the public", while the council claimed it was "far cheaper" than its current system of leasing spaces at Fort Amherst and the Historic Dockyard, Chatham.

The new bus station was built with part of a £127 million government grant but has cost Medway council taxpayers more than £700,000 in unexpected costs.

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