Private hire vehicle operators have lost their battle to use bus lanes around Reading.
Bus companies and black cab drivers convinced Reading borough councillors it would result in congestion.
Members of the traffic management sub-committee did agree to extend the current trial allowing private hire cars to use the King’s Road bus lanes.
Operators of minicabs have long been pushing for the use of bus lanes, which are restricted to buses and hackney carriages.
John Purvis, speaking on behalf of Reading Private Hire Association at the sub-committee meeting last Thursday, said he was confident bus services would not suffer.
He said: “We have provided proof with the King’s Road west-bound bus lane where we are aware of no concerns regarding congestion before the hackney carriage association’s response to these consultations.
“There are 414 private hire vehicles in Reading, not all operating at the same time.
“It is estimated that 80 to 100 are operating at any one time, which increases slightly on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Asif Rashid, of Reading Taxi Association, said allowing private hire vehicles to use bus lanes would hold up buses and hackney carriages and he called for more camera enforcement to tackle abuse of bus lanes by private hire cars.
Reading Buses, Stewarts Coaches, First Group, Thames Travel and Arriva also sent in objections.
Tony Pettitt, director of resources at Reading Buses, told the sub-committee: “Reading Buses has derived considerable benefit from bus lanes and bus priority measures provided by Reading Borough Council over many years.
“They contribute to reliable journey times, which encourages passengers to use the service more.”
He continued: “If there are other vehicles, then this lessens the benefits. Our considered view is shared use is not a good idea and not something we would be able to support.”
Reading Motorcycle Action Group and Cyclists’ Touring Club said the proposals would mean additional hazards to cyclists and bikers.
Councillor Ricky Duveen, Liberal Democrat group leader, spoke up for the private hire operators.
He said: “The idea taxis should be allowed to use bus lanes and private hire vehicles should not is bizarre. They are both forms of public transport and should both be allowed access as a level playing field for competition.”
Green Party leader Cllr Rob White agreed.
He said: “Many of the people who have responded to the consultation have an economic interest in keeping private hire vehicles out of bus lanes. Asking your competitor what’s best for your business isn’t necessarily going to get the best answer.”
However, sub-committee chairman and transport boss Cllr Tony Page said: “The concerns which have been expressed by all bus operators are ones we have to take seriously.”
But he said the King’s Road experiment had been effective and believed it should continue.
Councillors voted not to permit private hire vehicles in bus lanes but to ask the Department for Transport to allow the King’s Road trial to be extended.
Source: get reading co.uk
Lord Dyson (Master of the Rolls) plus 2 heard the Addy Lee appeal, last submissions were made on Apr 24th, taking the 15 weeks as a bench mark, the Addy Lee judgement should be announced next week.