HUNDREDS of secondary school pupils could be forced to use an unsuitable and unsafe access road to get to the new guided busway, governors warned today.
Concerns have been raised that Cooling Lane, in Tyldesley, is not suitable as a route for people to get between Tyldesley town centre and the new public transport route which has a near it.
Campaigners say the lane is not properly surfaced and has poor lighting between the busway stop and Squires Lane and this will make it a hazard for pensioners and other passengers.
They have also expressed alarm that there are currently no plans in place for improvements. Governors at Fred Longworth High School are especially worried as they expect many pupils to use the busway to come to school and will have to walk up and down it after dark during the winter months.
Fred Longworth governor Ian Williams said: “Cooling Lane from the bus stop to Squires Lane is like a ginnel, dark with heavy tree cover.
“Pupils are going to be getting off there to get to school and there’s going to be no improvements to the footpath, no lighting and no firm footing.
“To me it is a major issue and getting off the bus there, especially during the winter months, will be a health and safety hazard. There will be pensioners going to the bus stop and potentially it’s a risk.
“It’s not as though this has just dropped on the authorities either, they’ve had years to sort this out.”
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says it is currently unable to upgrade Cooling Lane as the land is in private hands, but attempts to find a solution are ongoing.
TfGM has already carried out work to the lane south of the busway to improve the drainage and plans are in place for better lighting and an all-weather path surface between Sandringham Drive and the new stop.
Discussions are still taking place about the stretch of lane north of the busway as far as Squires Lane, which is also close to an important and protected wildlife habitat.
Peter Boulton, TfGM head of programme management services, said: “We understand that Cooling Lane is a popular path with horse riders, walkers and students and, as part of the guided busway measures, we will be making improvements to the drainage, lighting and surface of the path to the south of the busway.
“Private land ownership and conservation issues mean we have, so far, been unable to reach an agreement to allow improvements to be made to the north side of the path.
“However, further discussions will be held with the landowner and Natural England in the future to try and find a solution.”
It was only recently announced that work on the busway is likely to be completed before the end of the year but services will now only begin in 2016.