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End of the road for bus lanes

Mayor scraps chaotic scheme for nine month trial

Written by . Published on September 19th 2013.

End of the road for bus lanes

Bus lanes in Liverpool are to be suspended from next months in a nine-month long trial announced by Mayor Joe Anderson. 

It will mean an end to the £700,000 a year collected in fines by drivers illegally using the lanes created for the exclusive use of buses, taxis and cyclists. 

Is it the end of a scheme, built at a cost of millions of pounds as part of what was the unpopular Big Dig scheme? Big Joe finally sorts out the mess caused by Big Dig. 

Elephants_StationA quicker way of
getting down Lime Street
Mayor Anderson particularly cited the ludicrous bus lane prohibiting city-centre bound drivers from nipping up St John ‘s Lane.

Currently to reach Lime Street there is a lengthy tragical misery tour across the often busy mouth of the Mersey Tunnel, up New Islington, along Norton Street and down London Road. 

What about heading to the city centre down Renshaw Street? Instead of being allowed to continue along Lime Street, motorists are shunted up Copperas Hill, down Skelhorne Street. There, you join the taxis and buses queuing to get into Lime Street. It causes more gridlock than it was supposed to cure. 

Mayor Anderson has asked citizens what they think of the idea, and he has already mentioned it to the taxi trade and bus industry. It's hard to imagine either of those groups being pleased with the loss of their exclusivity. 

Another prime example of bus lane madness is Edge Lane. Millions was spent on the Edge Lane corridor, one of the most congested routes in the city. 

It seems to me most of the money was spent on giving motorists some nice trees and posh lampposts to admire as that sat in queues. As it is, half of the road for long stretches, is reserved for buses. 

It would have made more sense to keep it as a dual carriageway and spend the money on creating separate bus lanes in each direction. More often than not the traffic and travel news on local radio stations announces congestion along the Edge Lane corridor. 

Bus Lane LiverpoolMount Pleasant was
turned into a bus lane
The miracle is the trees have survived despite being poisoned by the exhaust fumes from standing traffic. 

County Road and Prescot Road were other routes cited by the Mayor which are often clogged by queues of traffic. 

The Mayor’s plans comes after he said he had seen for himself the impact in the city of traffic movement as a result of the 24 bus lanes in use, some of them operational for 15 or 20 years.

The Mayor commented: “For a number of years since I was elected as Leader I have thought bus lanes just work for me. They are not supposed to clog up traffic. In my view most of our bus lanes are just not working properly or enhancing the flow.” 

The city council will monitor the situation using cctv surveillance over the trial period to decide whether the bus lanes should return. The bus lane signs will be removed from the morning of Monday, October 21. 

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30 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

RobertSeptember 19th 2013.

Where are the studies of the impacts that such changes will bring? Without professional advice, the city's decision making process is becoming utterly dictatorial. By all means undertake studies to see how things can be changed to improve the flow of traffic - what are Merseytravel doing and their new C/E with more radical bus solution experience? Also, what consideation for 130m bus passenger / 110m taxi journeys per year? This is a backward step. You refer to the Big-Dig (which was the City Centre Movement Strategy). Ahead of road access remodelling, whenever one of the tunnels happened to be blocked late afternoon around the peak time, the whole city centre was gridlocked. Remember? People driving down Renshaw > Lime St > St Johns Lane etc to reach the Queensway Tunnel (basically heading through the city centre to reach that tunnel or Kingsway) caused utter chaos. As it stands now things are much better (just ask the cabbies...). Traffic flows handle shopping traffic directing it to vacant parking spaces, and vast numbers of cars are kept out of the core zones where buses need to come in, drop off and exit. The alternative is less managed traffic, more congestion, more air pollution, slower journeys for all. OK, there are bus lane issues further out of town, and they need re-designing, and consistent messages / designs are required. Bus lanes rarely get parked in, yet take them away and what you will see is regular fly parking, and increased traffic chaos - defeating the arguments that 'Chairman Joe' has put forward. Arguments it has to be said that are not evidenced. Our transport authority Merseytravel should be working harder for us and Council, it is afterall, they who worked on bus corridors etc through various projects. If they cant do it ask the cabbies what needs to be changed for the good of all on the roads in Liverpool.

MG MiniSeptember 19th 2013.

The buses are so important that they need their own lanes. This might be true of London, where people actually use the buses, but in Liverpool they are as rubbish as they ever were and rattle around empty, spewing out noxious diesel fumes, because of the ridiculous and unworkable £2 flat fare. This is why Merseyrail use has increased so dramatically in the last two years. Road transport is going nowhere in Liverpool centre.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleySeptember 19th 2013.

Empty? You obviously never tried to get a bus on Leece Street at 5 pm, going out of town.

Michael BreslinSeptember 19th 2013.

There are plenty of areas of Liverpool that are nowhere near a rail station and where buses ARE heavily used.

John ShawSeptember 19th 2013.

Come on John, even someone as decrepit as you, can walk from Leece St. to Grove St.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleySeptember 19th 2013.

I can but like most human beings I have the ability to observe the world around and I bright enough to tell the when buses are so full people are standing that those who say that the buses are empty are either in the wrong place or hopelessly unobservant or perhaps they can only sit in their cars and are incapable of imagining that other people are not in cars, this level of lack of empathy is characteristic of a psychopath.

Mad HatterSeptember 19th 2013.

Cyclepaths!!!!!!don't go there JB

RobertSeptember 19th 2013.

Mini, why turn the clock back to something untested? You have to think harder about the impact of such a decision. Liverpool has a population more reliant on bus services than any other city outside of London and Glasgow, meaning high ridership levels, especially at peak times. Cities all over the UK / Europe / Asia / North America have bus lanes...it's just that they are probably better laid out than ours..... therefre modification is required for certain on key corridors leading into the city for Walton Vale / Wavertree / Kensington Prescot Rd etc is not so pleasant for turning left / right - so create better filters and bus gates at certain locations - FFS THINK!! A car free-for-all in the city centre will help to scupper city progress with visitors / tourism etc.. Joe is supposed to be steering the city towards 'European Green Capital' and a move like this counts against the city - so whilst Joe copies Bristol's independent Mayor for many idea's, he's doing a huge dis-service for those on low incomes who have to move around the city by bus. Additionally, its completely out of line with Labour transport policy and local MP Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle's proposals for bringing buses more to the fore of transport by making them more affordable. One looking forward, the other looking back - sound familiar? In case anyone has not noticed, car use started to decline in 2006 both locally and nationally from 2007, and has continued to do so thanks to our wonderous economy and higher oil prices. Are we being led in the right direction by our Mayor and unaccountable forthcoming 'super-council'?

Audi L. DideworkthatoneoutSeptember 19th 2013.

The thing is, the bus lanes work. They are supposed to be empty, that’s how buses move along them swiftly, the same way cars move swiftly along empty bits of road. Filling them with more stationary queues of cars (driven by wilfully ignorant bell-ends who can’t queue properly or considerately) does no-one any favours. And what about the cyclists in Uncle Joe’s new cycle-friendly city?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleySeptember 19th 2013.

There may be a case for putting operating times on some lanes but I doubt that closing them all will be the end result. I expect some of them to be reinstated within days when some places grind to a halt.

Audi L. DideworkthatoneoutSeptember 21st 2013.

Particularly narrow but busy commuter routes like Wavertree-Picton Roads with popular and regular buses such as the 79.

AnonymousSeptember 19th 2013.

If the transport people want to really encourage more use of public transport, especially buses, the solution is simple. You will fail by pricing people out of their cars, you will succeed if you price them onto buses. Last week I waited for an 82 outside the bombed out church. The timetable stated a bus arrived every 7/8 minutes. I waited 21 and guess what, three arrived in a convoy. I think the bus companies take the p*** out of passengers. A daily user on the 82 said it was common for buses after 6pm to be a law unto themselves. Bus companies should be heavily fined for failing to run their buses on time and to schedule. Drivers should be sent to the Blakey Charm School to learn civility and manners, and the fares should be slashed to £1 per journey. Till then the car stays. Nice One Joe, such a popular move.

mickeydrippin'September 19th 2013.

It appears that neither Merseytravel nor Arriva knew of Joe's latest idea - I don't think they are too happy. Also the one thing that upsets motorists is the fact that it is often unclear as to when they can drive in the bus lanes, which is any time outside the designated peak periods. All they are asking for is far more clarity and less use of cameras.

Road RunnerSeptember 19th 2013.

I for one will be only too happy to see the demise of that bus lane that approaches the junction of Long Lane and Horrocks Ave in Garston. It causes havoc and congestion daily.

Dave MurphySeptember 20th 2013.

Can I have the money back for the fines I had to pay (wrongly)?

AnonymousSeptember 20th 2013.

The bus lane in Kensington (heading in the direction of Old Swan) was downright dangerous if you wanted to turn down Shiel Road. Progress was further halted by being stuck behind a queue of people wanting to turn right into McDonalds. Good riddance to the bus lanes.

Paul WardSeptember 20th 2013.

What would be good to hear is that the experts have been called in, that traffic flows have been analysed and that a city-wide scheme has been carefully worked out. I don't want ad hoc changes at the whim of a mayor, whatever he thinks of himself.

AnonymousSeptember 20th 2013.

Everybody who has ever been charged for accidentally straying into the St John's Lane bus lane should seek legal redress for their money back

Kiron ReidSeptember 22nd 2013.

Have to agree with 'Audi': "Particularly narrow but busy commuter routes like Wavertree-Picton Roads with popular and regular buses such as the 79." I used to live there but do not now. Buses are very heavily used at peak times. They'd be better used if Liverpool wasn't probably the most expensive place in Europe for bus fares (and more expensive than places in Europe for train fares). The totally pointless bus lane is the permanent one at Liverpool airport designed to help Peel's profit.

Road RunnerSeptember 23rd 2013.

Is that the reason there is a surcharge for hackney cabs at JLA? Is it to pay for the dreaded red tarmac, or the white elephant at Southern Parkway. Big Joe is unlikely to tread on the toes of Peel, he's too busy dancing to their tune. You'll more than likely find they'll remain untouched

Road RunnerSeptember 23rd 2013.

The problem with a lot of the bus lanes, is lack of continuity, they are so fragmented, that the breaks render them inoperable. Traffic is allowed to interrupt the flow on many occasions causing disruption. It's a nonsense to give free passage to a bus, only for it to come to a halt fifty metres further on. EG. Park Road. The ideal carriageways for bus routes are wide and lengthy ones, on arterial roads, this is also dependent on other factors, such as volume and density of the area. The council altered Park Road to accommodate Tesco, they then built "lay-by's" for the local shops, swiftly followed by bus lanes, that hardly enhance the flow of traffic one iota. They would have been better off spending whatever it cost on something more deserving.

FuriousOctober 4th 2013.

The problem for cyclists and drivers alike is that in Liverpool city centre there are circuitous single routes set out for the traffic with no alternative routes. It only takes one selfish, idiotic driver (particularly the type who never blocks one lane when he or she can straddle two) to cause gridlock.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2013.

will joe sleep at nights when people die, and yes I do believe this will happen. who will pick up the tab, when bus lanes are reinstated. joe is a bully, he says he knows it's the bus lanes that don't work... FFS if they are removed without a working road network, we will have a fleet of 'Mary Celeste' buses. If it's Not All joes work, then who is the thick head behind this stuip plan? how about removing the predestian parts of liverpool too, the lazy motorists need to get as close to there destination, don't they.?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Road RunnerOctober 22nd 2013.

I'll have a pint of whatever you've been drinking.

Bill MajorNovember 9th 2013.

Who decided this? Was it just Joe? Why do we need more cars pouring into Liverpool city centre? Joe and Tory Eric Pickles have a few things in common. One, is that Pickles is also making life easier for car drivers to jam and pollute the city by removing double yellow lines.

J MozNovember 9th 2013.

I'm in favour of bus lanes, but agree that bus services are sometimes very irregular. For example, I frequently see 3 no. 15s going past my house almost joined together (It's meant to be an 8 minute frequency). I was told by someone from Merseytravel, that all the new ticket machines have transmitters in them. So in principle, you could monitor all the buses and penalise companies who don't keep within the timetable. Transport for London do. But Merseytravel don't. If the services were more reliable, people would have more faith in them.

VW BeetleNovember 9th 2013.

I would be more inclined to take the bus on short journeys were it not for the fact that it is £2.10 to travel one stop or 20.

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