Liverpool City Council Take Bus lanes out of Service From Tomorrow.
Bus lanes in Liverpool City Centre will no longer be active as part of a nine-month plan to try and ease congestion.
Data gathered by the city council indicates that bus lanes are not leading to an increase in bus usage in Liverpool, and may be making congestion in the city worse.
The trial removal of all 24 bus lanes, citywide, will give the city the chance to put this to the test, collect comprehensive data and evaluate what, if any, benefits the lanes are bringing to the city.
Mayor Anderson said: "Buses remain hugely important to the city, and we will continue to invest in sustainable transport schemes such as our forthcoming Car Club and Cycle Hire Schemes. However, we have a commitment to reduce congestion and the harmful emissions associated with this and to keep the city moving, for the benefit of residents, commuters, visitors and businesses.
"Ultimately, the evidence we have indicates that bus lanes are not benefiting city as planned – either for buses or cars. This trial is about investigating this further so we can make an informed decision over whether the permanent removal of bus lanes will bring benefits to the city.
"Bus lanes are one of the biggest sources of complaints for our highways team. We receive a huge number of objections from motorists who stray by mistake into bus lanes and are hit with a fine of at least £30. We know they are a source of frustration for many people in the city. We have listened - and we are taking action.
"Some people have suggested to me that we shouldn’t do this because the bus lanes generate income of £700,000-a-year for the council. But in my view it would be immoral to treat motorists as a cash cow, and that is why my priority is making sure that we take a look at this properly.
"This is only a trial, and if we find, after nine months, that it is not working, then the bus lanes will be reinstated.”
The city council will consult fully with stakeholders during the suspension period, with the first six months of the trial giving individuals and organisations the opportunity to make objections and comments.
The plans form part of the Council’s commitment to ensure safe movement of vehicles, improve traffic flow and ensure the city makes the most of its highway network.
The Council’s on-going monitoring of bus lanes – both directly by officers and through the city’s camera network - has found that a number of the city’s bus lanes are having a major impact on traffic movement during the morning and evening peak periods, in some cases causing significant congestion.
The research has also found that some bus lanes are under-utilised, and that, even at times when bus lane restrictions are not in force, many drivers still do not use them, creating further congestion issues.
It is expected that the costs associated with removing the bus lanes will be minimal. It will involve the removal of sign faces (retaining the sign poles) and the masking of the existing road markings. This would make the reinstatement of the bus lanes, if necessary, a relatively straightforward process. Bus lane enforcement cameras will be retained but switched off during the trial.
The plans did face some opposition though, responding to news, Sustrans’ North West Regional Director, Eleanor Roaf, said: "Scrapping Liverpool’s bus lanes won’t ease congestion; it will achieve the exact opposite – creating more traffic, pollution and noise in the city.
"Allowing cars in bus lanes will not only slow down public transport, making it a less attractive travel option, but will also prevent cyclists from using that space as a safe haven away from dangerous traffic.
"This decision could cost Liverpool dearly – pollution, congestion and physical inactivity are a huge drain on the economy but all of these can be easily addressed encouraging people to cycle or take public transport.”