‘Frustrating’ bus lane meeting at Liverpool Council

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City leaders met at Liverpool town hall on September 30 to discuss the decision to extend the suspension of Liverpool’s bus lanes, but were frustrated with the lack of information they had been given by highway bosses.

A special panel set up to probe whether the suspension has been effective in reducing congestion and pollution heard from experts and witnesses on both sides of the debate. The group of councillors chaired by Green leader Cllr John Coyne decided it was not worth getting together again after yesterday’s meeting.

The meeting, which was the first gathering of the scrutiny committee while the extension has been up and running, heard from cyclists about how they have been affected by the change, and came ahead of a crucial report going to the council’s cabinet. The report will decide whether or not to get rid of the lanes for good or reinstate all or some of them.

Howard Farrell, Arriva Managing Director, said: “We felt what we saw was a summary decision to scrap bus lanes, which seemed to us perhaps a very dangerous precedent in the national context. What we would have preferred to have seen was a proper study beforehand showing what we were getting out of the bus lanes and if it is worth the impact.”

The suspension of the bus lanes for a nine-month period began in September last year and was due to end this July. However, because of continuous roadworks in some areas that were said by the council to have skewed data on congestion and traffic movement, the scheme was extended. But opponents continued to criticise what they said was a lack of evidence for the need for the trail at all.

Don Thompson, of the Merseyside Cycle campaign, highlighted that the impact on cyclists had not been properly looked at – saying people on bikes had lost nine miles worth of lanes that they feel safe using.

Cllr Coyne said: “I feel a bit frustrated because we could have been able to discuss something rather than just be told ‘we can’t tell you.’ As a panel, I feel we are firing questions without getting anything back. Proper full scrutiny is beyond us really.”