Next stop, fast buses to get roads mov­ing

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION - by Mike Ben­nett

ASH­FORD is an­other step closer to get­ting its promised su­per-mod­ern rapid trans­port sys­tem af­ter the Gov­ern­ment al­lo­cated £530 mil­lion fund­ing for 16 ma­jor projects across the South East.

They in­clude the Smartlink scheme, de­signed to pro­vide fast bus links serv­ing res­i­den­tial and em­ploy­ment sites in and around the ex­pand­ing town.

An­nounc­ing the go-ahead, SE Eng­land Trans­port Board chair­man Nick Skil­lett said he was de­lighted the re­gion had se­cured the fund­ing af­ter work­ing with coun­cils and part­ners in set­ting trans­port pri­or­i­ties.

The high-qual­ity ser­vice will link fu­ture de­vel­op­ments at Chilm­ing­ton Green and Cheese­mans Green and the main em­ploy­ment ar­eas at Cobbs Wood and Or­bital Park, Sev­ing­ton, with the town cen­tre, in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic sta­tions, and the new park and ride sites.

Smartlink is ex­pected to pro­vide a high fre­quency ser­vice, with faster jour­neys into town than by car. The first phase is sched­uled to be­come re­al­ity by 2012.

Andy Phillips, Ash­ford’s Fu­ture sus­tain­able trans­port man­ager, said: “This is good news for Ash­ford that the Gov­ern­ment has ac­cepted the trans­port pri­or­i­ties from the re­gional trans­port board.

“The Smartlink scheme is still sub­ject to ap­proval from the county coun­cil and De­part­ment of Trans­port but this is a pos­i­tive step to­wards de­liv­er­ing more sus­tain­able trans­port to Ash­ford.”

An ex­am­ple of the rapid-trans­port Smartlink buses

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