Liverpool's bus lanes to go...?

posted 24 Sept 2013, 09:18 by Roy McDonald   [ updated 24 Sept 2013, 09:27 ]
September 24th, 2013
So Liverpool’s elected Mayor, Joe Anderson, is leading a crusade to scrap the City’s bus lanes, as he thinks they cause congestion and hinder the free flow of traffic?
This seems to me to be no more than a "sound bite" decision taken by a politician who should know better, and is akin to Eric Pickles’ recent call for Town Halls to “ditch their anti-car dogma”.

The premise for the decision is fundamentally flawed and seemingly based on no more than hearsay.

Whilst I would certainly agree that some parts of the City Centre Movement Strategy - The Big Dig - merited a rethink, the wholesale removal of the bus lanes across the entire City is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and sends out completely the wrong message to residents and travellers alike.

I agree with Mr Anderson in that Bus Lanes should not be a cash cow... but neither should car parking charges. However, fines for encroaching into bus lanes are avoidable if motorists respect and obey the restrictions. Clearly, too many are choosing to flout them and moan when they have to pay the penalty.

If bus lanes are, indeed, adding to congestion, the answer must lie in comprehensive corridor management.
Why are the cars there in the first place? Should through traffic be encouraged to use alternative routes? Can signage and traffic management be improved? Could selective right turn bans be implemented? Would conversion of bus lanes to no-car lanes be a solution? Can more be done to encourage drivers to switch to more sustainable travel modes?
So, where does this leave the Quality Partnership, now?

It is this kind of knee-jerk decision making which makes a mockery of so called partnership working. Whilst the operators, generally, keep to their side of the bargain, the authorities continually fail, (and not just in Liverpool). It has been suggested that the Traffic Commissioner should have the powers to fine highway authorities if they fail in their duties to support measures to promote bus punctuality.

I imagine that Merseytravel and the Bus Operators are absolutely seething about this apparently, high-handed decision. However, neither party appears to have made any public statement... yet. Representatives of the Taxi trade – who also benefit from bus lanes – have already spoken out against the decision.

Merseytravel and the Bus Operators' Partnership have the opportunity to turn this retrogade decision to their advantage by developing and promoting a bold plan for a network of true BRT lines across the City, creating segregated busways and bus only routes for the principal radial corridors.

If LCC is genuinely interested in promoting sustainable travel in the City of Liverpool and supporting a high quality, integrated public transport network, it must seriously reconsider how buses can be given their own space through the City.