A BYPASS around Bracknell, more bus lanes and self-driving cars — this is how transport in Berkshire could change over the next 30 years. 

People and businesses in Berkshire are being asked for their views on how roads, trains and cycle lanes should change across the district. 

That’s because Transport for the South East — made up of local councils, businesses and transport organisations — has published a draft transport strategy up until 2050. 

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Following a public consultation which ends on January 10, a final strategy will be published in April next year. The specific plans included would first need planning approval and funding before anything actually goes ahead. 

Councillor Richard Somner, lead member for highways and transport for West Berkshire Council, said: “I’m pleased that this strategy has been created with sustainability at its heart. 

“By putting both people and the planet to the fore and prioritising public transport, we can vastly increase the chances of reducing congestion, cutting emissions and boosting our air quality. I urge everyone to take a look and have their say on this forward thinking strategy.”

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According to the draft, one current challenge is bottlenecks on roads between the M3 and M4 — like Bagshot Road that runs through Bracknell — impacting ‘negatively on air quality, safety and quality of life’.

One initiative listed in the strategy to address this is an ‘alternative M3–M4 link, avoiding Bracknell’. This would avoid directing ‘heavy traffic through urban areas’. 

Another challenge is how bus services between towns could deteriorate, if congestion gets worse. But better bus lanes could be one way to solve this, according to the strategy. 

The expensive price of bus and train fares was also listed as a problem. The draft states: “Rail fares have increased ahead of inflation in most years since privatisation in 1996, and today are reportedly among the highest in Europe. 

“Bus fares have also increased significantly ahead of inflation in recent years. This trend risks putting access to transport beyond the means of some of the most vulnerable people in the South East.”

The strategy focuses on reducing reliance on private cars to cut congestion and carbon emissions, and improve air quality. For example, it suggests using self-driving cars and other new technology.

Charles Eales, co-chairman of the Berkshire strategic transport forum, said: “This draft strategy advocates a vision for the South East’s transport system that creates great places – a sustainable, inclusive and accessible transport system which promotes prosperity, health and fairness for residents and commuters.”

A ‘strategic investment plan’ will be published in 2021, with a costed list of transport schemes.

Click here to view the draft strategy and have your say. The deadline is January 10, 2020.