A RAFT of measures that will transform the face of transport across the town will be outlined next year.

Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council are working on the transport strategy for Basingstoke, with a number of studies set to return conclusions in the spring.

It will include reports into a new mass rapid transit system (MRTS) as well as where cycle and walking routes should go, plus a long-awaited western by-pass.

The transport strategy will work alongside the draft vision into the use of land around junction 7 of the M3, with a park and ride facility and transport hub linking the new hospital and warehouse development with the town centre.

The MRTS is designed to decrease the number of cars on the road, in the face of increased housing development and climate targets.

The report states that it is "intended to facilitate a step change in the provision of public transport in the town, with dedicated road space and priority measures at key junctions to provide for shorter and more punctual journeys, formed around a network of routes through the town".

"It is envisaged that these would serve key development sites such as the Leisure Park and Manydown and make use of the A30 and A33."

Basingstoke Gazette:

The indicative route map of a mass rapid transit system

But there was criticism for BDBC from Labour councillor Gary Watts, who called the junction 7 vision a "worthless piece of paper" and said that the MRTS had "no timescale".

"We have heard all this talk before about mass rapid transport and new rail stations and nothing has been delivered. It is just more empty promises," he said.

Responding, Cllr Mark Ruffell, cabinet member for planning, infrastructure and the natural environment, said: "At long last we have got things coming forward with a drive to make them happen. That wasn't always the case."

Cllr Watts hit out at the authority's proposed withdrawal of the centre shuttle - part of a raft of budget cuts proposed.

But Cllr Ruffell said that the centre shuttle was failing, adding: "The timing is perfect for this to happen."

He said that shuttle bus would be replaced by a park and ride and MRTS that will "do what the current shuttle cannot do".

"The current shuttle results in traffic passing many homes, delivering them almost to the centre of Basingstoke and as a consequence fails to act as a park and ride should do, at the same time requires a significant amount of subsidy and is vastly underused.

"It is a complete failure from start to finish, and the majority of the poeple who use it seem to come from outside the borough, so it is not even helping local residents.

"Whilst we have been quite keen to keep it running, the current financial position has meant that it can't keep it running, and the timing of it is hopefully going to link in to the onset of mass rapid transport.

"What it needs is for the whole council to get behind this, not to stand on the sidelines and say 'it has never happened before'.

"Now is the time for all of us to get behind this and make it happen."

Currently, HCC are studying a number of criteria that will shape the system, including routes, interchange requirements, service frequency and ways of accommodating the facilities associated with it.

Dominic McGrath, strategic transport manager at HCC, also confirmed to the borough's economic, planning and housing committee last week that the mode of transport has not yet been determined, saying that "all options" remain open.

It is likely that it will be in the form of either a bus or tram network.

A quality-led contract, a new franchise and profit sharing agreements could be brought in to stop private companies, such as Stagecoach, from benefitting from council investment, he added.

A western by-pass, linking junction 7 and the hospital with the A339, will also be considered, whilst reports on potential upgrades to the A339 between the town and Newbury, and the A33 from Basingstoke to Reading, are also set to be considered.

On top of that, there are also calls for the former Oakley train station to be reopened, as well as building a new station at Chineham.

But Mr McGrath warned councillors to be realistic - saying in response to a question from Cllr Chris Tomblin that a £300 million tram network like Nottingham "may well not be affordable".

HCC are due to make recommendations from the reports in spring 2021.