£13m of bus priority funding in Wales to be used on general traffic schemes

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £8.99.
It has been argued that the funding may harm the bus industry rather than help it, by encouraging car use. CHRIS NEWSOME
It has been argued that the funding may harm the bus industry rather than help it, by encouraging car use. CHRIS NEWSOME

CPT Cymru labels Welsh Government as ‘dishonest’ as bulk of funding goes towards upgrading junctions and other general traffic congestion schemes

Funding to the tune of £13m, which the Welsh Government had earmarked for ‘bus priority’ schemes, will instead be mostly used to upgrade junctions to benefit all traffic, Wales Online has reported.

Funding from the South Wales Metro programme of public transport improvements has been diverted to general road schemes, which critics say will encourage people to use cars even more.

The government has said that schemes will speed up bus journeys, but transport professionals believe they will incentivise people to drive rather than switch to public transport.

The funding was awarded to nine schemes, of which at least four will provide no specific bus priority features, such as bus lanes or bus bypasses at busy junctions. Another scheme, at Fiddlers Elbow, is shelved but would not have included bus priority.

One scheme features a short bus lane, terminating 100m before the Baron’s Court junction, Cogan, while the rest of the scheme is focused on helping the Dinas Powys-Cogan road cope with an expected 8% increase in general traffic by 2021. Consultants said there was too little space for bus lanes, ‘thus an improvement at a few critical junctions would reduce delay both to public transport and general traffic.’

The main elements of bus priority in the £13m package are concentrated on the route from Culverhouse Cross to Cardiff Airport, where four junctions will receive bus bypasses linked to bus lanes.

John Pockett, Director of CPT Cymru, told CBW: “Road schemes aimed specifically and solely at giving buses priority over other vehicles are recognised as one of the most important means of encouraging more drivers to abandon their cars and use public transport, which is in accordance with the clear environmental aims of the Welsh Government.

“These government funded schemes, which appear to do little, if anything, to achieve that, drive a coach and horses through the Welsh Government’s own policy, and the bus industry is entitled to ask ‘what on earth is going on?’

“The Welsh Government is being dishonest in labelling these as bus priority schemes, when they are merely general traffic congestion schemes. The government in Cardiff has treated buses as the Cinderella of public transport and this does nothing to change that view.”

The Welsh Government declined to comment on how many bus bypasses and how much bus lane would be installed.

A spokesman said: “Metro Phase 1 Bus Priority Schemes are improvements to known pinch points on routes used by regional bus services. Within a peak hour, over 150 bus movements will benefit from the projects being delivered under this scheme.

“The works include a combination of measures including bus lanes, bus gates and general infrastructure improvements to offer cost effective improvements to bus journey times and reliability without a detrimental effect on other road users.”