New CCTV, refurbished toilets and improved branding are just some of the proposals to help improve one of the main transport facilities in the town centre.
Up to £200,000 could be spent on the Wrexham Bus Station in the next 12 months as part of council plans to make ‘significant improvements’ at the site.
One key change to the bus station includes the reopening of the visitor information office, which has been vacant for several years.
This week it has been confirmed that ‘The Skiers Lodge Ltd’ – who operate easyBus and easyCoach – have been offered the contract to operate the enquiry / information facility.
The contract awarded is for an initial period of three years from 1st April 2018 with the option to extend for a further two years.
It is hoped that the information facility will be open to the public on April 16th.
Speaking earlier this week, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr David A Bithell said that the company will “revamp” the information office – which will be open Monday to Saturday to offer assistance to visitors. A supervisor will also be based on site.
Further details about the role of the visitor information office are provided in a report due before the Executive Board next week, which explains that under the contract agreement the company will “meet a number of specific requirements”, including:
– Ensuring the enquiry/information office is open Monday to Saturday and staffed by suitably trained staff to provide assistance and information to customers
– Responding to all enquiries and complaints from users of the bus station
– Provision of information regarding arrivals and departures to and from the bus station
– Providing information regarding public transport services provided by all operators
– Making available and distributing information material relating to public transport services
– Directing the public to alternative sources of information (eg the Tourist Information Centre)
– Directing the public to major public buildings and services situated in the town centre
– Providing, displaying and maintaining timetable information relating to bus services operating from the bus station
On Saturdays the information office will also act as an “outlet” for Wrexham Council by providing signposting to Contact Wrexham services.
Commenting on the contract / reopening of the visitor information office, Cllr Bithell said it is hoped that visitors will have the “confidence and feel safe in wanting to come back into Wrexham”.
He added: “It is a good news and story and I hope it will be welcomed. We have worked on it for quite sometime and hopefully it will be will be well received.”
Readers of Wrexham.com will be aware of the well-documented issues with substance misuse and anti-social behaviour in the bus station and King Street area over the past 12 months.
However it is hoped that the improvements, along with the ongoing security presence in the bus station, will offer reassurance and create a positive first impression to people visiting the town centre.
Council Leader Mark Pritchard added: “Cllr Bithell put security within King Street for obvious reasons and we’ve have had a fantastic response to it.
“For the foreseeable future we need security in there. At this moment in time because of the issues we have had, we would like to keep the security.”
A number of physical changes to the bus station have also been undertaken in recent weeks.
In December 2017 Wrexham Council was awarded £73,000 of Welsh Government funding to carry out some improvements to the bus station.
In January it was announced that a “first phase of works” would begin at the facility – including the installation of LED lights and netting to keep the pigeons out.
There are also plans to carry out further improvements to the bus station, with a report due before the Executive Board stating: “In addition, officers have been in discussions with Welsh Government concerning the future operation and enhancement of the bus station which is seen as having an important role to play in the development and delivery of the North East Wales metro system.
“Welsh Government have indicated that they would be receptive to a further grant submission for 2018/19.”
The additional improvements, which could be carried out in the next 12 months, would include a CCTV upgrade, non-slip flooring, refurbishment of the existing toilets, new secure cycle parking infrastructure, improved bus station branding and new furnishings (such as seating).
Cllr Bithell said it was the “first stage” of works being undertaken to improve the appearance of the bus station. He continued: “A lot of people have said when they get off the bus it is the first experience of Wrexham.
“There has been some well-documented issues in the bus station, but it has really improved in the last six to eight months.”
Further proposals for the bus station include a phased increase over three years in departure charges for buses that leave the station.
Cllr Bithell explained that the charges haven’t been increased locally since 2012 and that the council need to “recover some of the costs to pay for some of the work we’re paying for as part of the contract”.
It is also proposed that the council introduce an annual permit charge for operators requiring the use of the existing lay-over space, for short term bus parking.
The report will go before the Executive Board at 10am on Tuesday 13th February. For those who can’t attend the meeting, it will also be webcast live on the Wrexham Council website.