Our recent Let’s Talk Transport meeting invited staff and students to put their transport related questions to our expert panel. Check out the responses below.

What is Cheshire West and Chester Councils’ vision for travel in/around Chester to help meet the 2045 Net Zero goal?

The council are currently in the process of rewriting our ‘Local Transport Plan,’ which will outline how we decarbonise transport across the borough. It is important to note that 90% of our funding is allocated from central government mostly through competition funding. Therefore, our ability to implement change is constrained by a diminishing dependable budget.

What cycle routes are available around Chester?

Chester is only five miles across and not very hilly, which makes it great for cycling. There are a variety of off road and on road routes available for cyclists, including a network of safe routes across the city, marked by various coloured signs.

Close to the Exton Park campus is the brown route, which joins the blue route and takes you into town. The green route follows the Millenium Greenway, and the silver route runs down Cheney Road, towards the retail park. More information can be found here and, on the Chester, Cycling Campaign website.

Are there any student/ staff public transport discounts available?

Staff can access a discounted Northern Rail annual train ticket, the initial cost is covered by payroll and claimed back via deductions from your salary over 12 months. The Arriva Employer Travel Club offers a reduced bus travel ticket costing £1.35 a day (for Chester and Shrewsbury Campuses only).

From January 2023, the government introduced a £2 bus fare cap on single ticket journeys which will remain in place until March of this year (GOV UK, 2022). This applies to Warrington Own buses, most of the buses covering Shrewsbury and Arriva, Stagecoach and Als Coach services in Chester. For more information, click here.

Are there any plans to extend the Park and Ride bus times?

The Travel Demand Group is made up of representatives from Cheshire West and Chester Council, Chester Zoo, the Countess of Chester Hospital, Cheshire Oaks and the University of Chester. The group meets monthly to discuss issues and opportunities surrounding travel provision. We can add the topic of Park and Ride operating hours to an upcoming agenda.

What is the difference between the ‘Cycle2Work’ scheme and the ‘Bike to Work’ loan?

Cycle2Work is a government backed discount scheme, whereby staff can hire a bike and safety equipment up to the value of £2000 from the University, for the purpose of commuting to work. This money is paid back, over twelve months, via deductions from your monthly salary, prior to tax and national insurance being deducted. After the twelve months have elapsed, staff members are able to extend the hire of the bike at no cost, until the value of the bike becomes negligible, and ownership is transferred to the employee. This scheme only applies to staff members who have a contract of 12 months or more (I.e., permanent).

The Bike to Work loan is an upfront, interest free, loan which allows staff members to
buy a bike. Similar to the Cycle2Work loan, the loan is repaid via deductions from your monthly salary but post tax. Staff members looking to make use of this scheme will need a quote for a bike that is not second hand and bought from a recognised seller (for example, Bren Bikes). This loan is available to staff who have a contract of employment that covers the length of the repayment period and be in receipt of a regular income (not ad hoc payments).

Is there scope to expand the University shuttle bus service for those who do not want to drive but have reduced mobility?

Pre-pandemic there were more buses running, however since reducing provision (because of the pandemic) there have not been any requests to reinstate the services. Shuttle bus runs are available on open/applicant days and are accessible.

How can I be more confident when cycling around the city?

Listen to the Green Chester Podcast (!), we recorded a bonus episode which provides lots of useful hints and tips. Begin by practising on the quiet routes, for example the Greenway, which is accessible via the back of Exton Park Campus. When you feel ready to head onto the more complex routes and/or roads, you could book onto a training session. There are several options available: Bikeability (provided by
BikeRight!) and Learn to Cycle. Also, Chester Cycle Campaign have the Cycle Buddies Scheme.

Are there plans to make infrastructural changes that might encourage cycling and better connect the University to the city?

Improvements will be recommended via the Local Cycle and Walking Implementation Plan (LCWIP).

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