THIS IS THE GRIM AND CHAOTIC REALITY
FOR ANYONE ARRIVING AT THE STATION
BY ANY MEANS OTHER THAN ON FOOT
OF THE CURRENT LAYOUT AND VEHICULAR ACCESS
TO THE SHEFFIELD MIDLAND STATION
TOGETHER WITH A SOLUTION
The purpose of this document is to put forward suggestions on how to improve the chaotic situation that exists for private cars, taxis and delivery vehicles at Sheffield Midland Station.
I have been prompted to write this through sheer frustration as a station user, as nothing has been done to design a system that works for anyone.
If you have not witnessed the problems I suggest you stand on the footbridge at the corner of the multi-storey car park for half an hour on a Friday afternoon when a London train is due.
As an outsider it may be that I do not have all the facts, but on the other hand I have no restrictions or agenda which might influence the way I look at the problem.
Design problems are there to be solved and there must be a solution.
WHY IS THERE CHAOS?
LET’S ANALYSE THE PROBLEM BY PLAYING THE GAME
‘GETTING TO THE STATION ON TIME’
Looking down Fornham St. from Suffolk Road.
Obstacle 1 Cross Turner St.
This section of the approach is shown in the photo at the begining of this report. Believe it or not, this is a two-way stretch of road. Despite the daunting prospect of confronting this barrage of traffic, many vehicles return down here in an attempt to make an exit from the station only to find there is no way out, with resulting mayhem.
Drivers already treat this street as one-way.
Obstacle 2 The crossover junction at the corner of the multi-storey car park, Turner St. /Cross Turner St.
The aim at this point in the game is to get to the golden space as soon as possible as this is the only route in, but this is just a honey trap as further difficulties lie ahead.
This is where the confused car driver meets the frustrated Taxi driver.
Four vehicles are all vying for the golden space. (See diagram and photos below)
Outbreaks of road rage occur here. Taxis usually score higher points as they have practiced it many times. Enthusiasm to get to this space often blocks the junction and prevents other vehicles from exiting with the resulting log jam.
At this point many drivers, including taxis, decide not to continue and attempt a three-point turn in the junction right in front of the golden space, a daring manoeuvre.
Those with trains to catch and time running out disgorge their passengers and luggage anywhere they can. Others picking up, ‘phone a friend’ who, minutes later, rolls up with their luggage, which they bundle in, whereupon the car makes a three-point turn and drives away. A lot happens in this 36sq. metres
Obstacle 3 The in and out corridor.
Proceed to the next part of the game, but beware of weaving taxis. This is due to the flow interruption zones which hinder the taxis’ progress. Taxis and cars jostle for a position in the queue along this lane, further disrupting the flow.
Pedestrians, exiting from the multi-storey car park, find that their crossing point is blocked, so they start walking diagonally towards the station, negotiating this jostling traffic. The very thing that was designed to make a safer crossing for pedestrians, namely the narrowing of the carriageway, is in fact one of the main factors in creating this dangerous environment.
Obstacle 4 The waiting zone.
This is where the car driver has to decide what to do “shall I drop off, pick up, wait for a parking space?” This could also be called the humiliation/intimidation zone, where innocent players get caught up in other peoples’ games. The longer the car driver waits, the greater the pressure from behind, as the taxis try to get to their passengers, ‘pass go,’ and collect their fares. For taxis this is nearly the end of the game. Once a gap appears they are home and dry, protected in their well-designed pickup zone.
(This is the only part of the system that works)
Obstacle 5 The drop off zone.
Vehicles waiting to drop off or pick up have one more hurdle, ’the drop-off zone’.
This, unfortunately, is approached from the wrong end, as drivers (already delayed) are anxious to drop off their passengers near the door; others follow to release the pressure from behind, thus blocking the taxis’ exit. The drop off zone becomes merely an exit route.
I once witnessed a Range Rover trying to play this game whilst towing a glider trailer. On another occasion two coaches were playing the game at the same time.
Coaches? Fire engines? Emergency vehicles? What provision is there for them?
This is all very entertaining but in reality it is a constant nightmare for everyone involved and genuinely upsetting and dangerous. Some people have already found a solution; they collect their passengers from Chesterfield.
THE ESSENTIAL PROBLEM
This can be broken down into two main issues.
1. The two different types of transport, taxis and other vehicles, do not mix. They operate at different flow rates and hinder each other. To work properly, these should be given separate lanes.
2. Car drivers dropping off or picking up are not given a clear set of rules as to how they should do so. What happens is that everyone makes up their own rules, with varying degrees of success.
The combination of these two issues results in chaos, intimidation, frustration, anger, and abuse and leads to accidents. On two of our last five visits we have witnessed people exchanging credentials. It is not a good working environment for taxi drivers nor a pleasant introduction to Sheffield’s new gateway to Europe.
Drivers deserve a well ordered and logical scheme.
The area involved in this report can be split into three sections .
1. APPROACH AND EXIT
2. IN AND OUT CORRIDOR
3. DROP OFF, PICK UP AND TURNAROUND
SECTION 1 APPROACH AND EXIT
The approach road, Fornham St. and Cross Turner St. and the exit road, Turner St. should be designated one-way, anti-clockwise. This simplifies the junction at the corner of the car park and prevents the misguided exit down Cross Turner St. as described earlier. This arrangement also allows more exit space for vehicles leaving the car park and station, thus preventing the back up at the Turner St./Cross Turner St. junction. A parking area for emergency coaches could now be created on the right hand side of Turner St.
The approach road, Fornham St./Cross Turner St. would now be the only way into the station. This is currently a dark and dismal backwater. This approach needs upgrading generally. It should feel like a ‘welcome to the station’.(The word 'Station Approach' used to conjure up a sense of arrival).
This section should be marked out for three lanes. On the left, two lanes for the taxi rank, and on the right a lane for all other vehicles.
(see diagram, Taxi RED, Others BLUE).
Taxis in the rank would thus be self-regulating, forming two queues and exiting by a single lane from the rank in sequential order. There would be no ‘golden space’ as the route ahead would be for taxis only and this could be entered in a leisurely manner when space allowed. When the taxi rank is full that should mean full and it should be designed so the could not be abused.
Other vehicles would proceed on the right in their own lane though the junction without any interruptions. Vehicles using the multi-storey car park would turn left.
All roads to be well lit, re-surfaced and clearly lane-marked and signed.
SECTION 2 IN AND OUT CORRIDOR
This area has to be three totally separate lanes. This is fundamental and is difficult to believe that it wasn’t achieved at the beginning. This would have been much easier if the electric sub station to the left were not there (I understand that this will eventually be relocated) and a little more space were allowed from the Network Rail Yard. These points could be looked at later, but in the meantime let’s see if this layout could be made to work within the existing boundaries.
It will be seen from the diagrams and the photographs at the end, that with a little adjustment of the pavements and kerbs it would be possible to achieve three independent lanes all along this corridor.
Taxis would now have their own route on the left of this corridor joining up with the existing turnaround, unhindered and unhurried.
Likewise other vehicles traveling on the right side of the corridor have an uninterrupted run up to the drop-off / pick-up zone.
The crossing for passengers exiting the multi-storey car park should be more clearly defined and marked to ensure it is ‘left clear’ of vehicles. Crossing three lanes here is not the best situation but would be less dangerous than the present one. A more satisfactory result could be achieved when the sub station is relocated.
SECTION 3 DROP OFF AND PICK UP ZONE
Here, vehicles in the right hand lane would turn into the covered way to either drop off or pick up passengers. They will naturally go to the front of this lane nearest to the station door. Other vehicles would follow in an orderly line, dropping off and picking up. In fact if this queue ever backed up, people could safely drop off and pick up all along this lane. Once people have been delivered or collected the pressure is off the drivers as they follow the turnaround and interlace with the taxis in the exit lane.
For vehicles that have reached the end of the drop-off / pick up zone, and whose passengers have not yet arrived, there would be three choices, which should be
indicated by good signage:-
1 Use one of the parking spaces in the area in front of them. (With the new layout, the no. of spaces could be increased).
2 If no space is available, they could opt for the multi-storey short stay car park.
(It would be well received if this were free for the first 40 mins. as it used to be)
3 They could try the one-way circuit again which gives them a few more minutes.
This new layout presents the driver with a sequence of choices in preferential order, namely – quickest and cheapest first. This is a known system that will greatly help the traffic flow. It works in harmony with human nature, not against it.
With a few adjustment to kerbs, signage and road markings, this new layout could be up and running within a short time and would revolutionise the fraught process of picking up and setting down passengers at the station. A lot of time and money has been spent on the station and environs for passengers on foot and it is now a real joy to walk up to the City. I guess we could say that the taxi and car are here to stay, and its only right that they should be given a little more consideration thus helping to make the ‘Station experience’ complete.
Some other issues and questions:-
What access arrangements are in place in case of a major incident at the station?
What provisions are in place for coaches and cycles?
What is being planned for the vacant building plot? (No plans have yet been submitted.)
How will this site be accessed and serviced?
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