Let's be busway bold in Liverpool?

posted 7 Mar 2018, 08:41 by Roy McDonald   [ updated 7 Mar 2018, 08:41 ]
7th March 2018

Liverpool City Council is this week showing the latest designs for a remodelling of Lime Street and St George's Plateau. The design reduces the present dual carriageway to a single carriageway and widens the Plateau area to create a bigger "performance space".

So far, so good - and the plans would enhance the setting of St George's Hall.

However, I think the plans put forward don't adequately consider the wider movement of public transport through this area.

The corridor leading into Lime Street and the Queen Square bus station is the most intensively used route into Liverpool City Centre.

I have calculated that there are currently up to 103 buses per hour in each direction, which operate in the London Road - Lime Street corridor. Some will say that this is far too many and is the root cause of the congestion and traffic problems. However, the fact that every one of those bus journeys is operated commercially, suggests that there is actually a very strong demand for bus travel into the City Centre from the north and west of the conurbation.

But, at times, it can take a bus upwards of 15 to 20 minutes to traverse the stretch of route between Low Hill and Queen Square, via the Royal Liverpool Hospital, London Road and Lime Street - a distance of just over one mile!

At Roy McDonald Consulting, we think there is an opportunity, here, to completely rethink how the operation of buses is viewed in this corridor, with the development of a new, dedicated, two-way busway (unguided) from the Low Hill/Prescot Street junction all the way into the Queen Square bus station.

The development of the new Royal Liverpool Hospital buildings are likely to alter many of the access points to the site. This can be a catalyst for the remodelling of Prescot Street with a two-way busway on the south (hospital) side of the road, featuring a new, high quality bus stop and shelter. Any necessary servicing access could be maintained by a single one-way, eastbound lane.

The two-way bus only route would continue along London Road from Prescot Street to Monument Place, where another high quality stop would be established to serve the shopping area and the proposed Fabric Quarter.

The busway route would continue across the Norton Street junction, and down the south side of London Road and into Lime Street, where the busway would use the existing southbound carriageway alignment adjacent to the Empire Theatre and Lime Street Station. Here, there would be an inbound alighting stop for access to the Station and Cultural Quarter, and another high quality passenger facility for outbound travellers. 

Limited general traffic would be accommodated in a single two-way road using the alignment of the existing northbound carriageway. Limited servicing and access could be permitted from Commutation Row into London Road in a single one-way, eastbound lane. 

The busway would then flow directly into Queen Square Bus Station via St George's Place. 

The diagram below, illustrates the proposal.

Provision of a busway would send out a clear message that bus travel in the City complements the rail network and is afforded a high level of priority.

The busway would benefit bus passengers through more regular journey times over this last mile into the City Centre, and the time savings could, potentially, allow bus operators to reduce the vehicle resources expended in trying to maintain schedules.