HGVs could be granted use of bus lanes in Wales

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After comments from the TC for Wales, Welsh Government is considering allowing HGVs to use bus lanes in specific circumstances, though the CPT expresses concerns

Economy and Transport Secretary for Wales, Ken Skates, has said the Welsh Government could consider letting HGVs into bus lanes in limited circumstances, the BBC reported.

The Welsh Government is to discuss the idea with highways and transport organisations over the next year. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has welcomed the idea, but it stressed the need for a sustained programme of investment in roads and infrastructure.

The development follows comments made by Nick Jones, Traffic Commissioner for Wales, in his first annual report in the role.

He wrote: “Any new bus lane might sensibly include consideration as to the scope of vehicles that are entitled to use that stretch of road. In some parts of the country local authorities have allowed HGVs to use bus lanes where the roads are planned so that this is facilitated. It is a recognition of the fact that HGVs are essential for the economy and the provision of services, indeed alternatives to using HGVs usually result in a considerable number of unregulated large vans, thereby increasing congestion and causing far greater environmental damage.

“As the regulator for the HGV industry, I also point out that a single modern efficient HGV will produce far less pollution than a traditional five-year-old family diesel car. I am not suggesting that HGVs should use all bus lanes, I merely point out that each case should be considered on its merits and that there might be occasions when allowing HGVs to use a bus lane will improve traffic flow.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson told CBW: “The Traffic Commissioner for Wales recently published his first annual report, and its observations were considered by the Enterprise and Infrastructure Committee.

“They included considering whether, in certain circumstances, HGVs could be permitted to use bus lanes where it is safe to do so. The Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates, who agreed to review the potential for allowing HGVs to use bus lanes in Wales in limited circumstances.

“We will now hold discussions with relevant highway bodies, the Traffic Commissioner, road and freight transport organisations, and interested parties across the transport spectrum, looking for conclusions to be published in 2019.”

John Pockett, Director of CPT Cymru, told CBW: “The bus industry will have concerns for this. We foresee the danger that bus lanes will be full of commercial vehicles of all sizes who are often doing short trip deliveries, which will block carriageways.

“In addition to the safety aspect, allowing commercial vehicles in bus lanes defeats the basic purpose of a bus lane, which is to facilitate rapid transit.”

Sustrans’ Natasha Withey said: “To improve traffic flow, cities need to reduce the number of vehicles on the road through encouraging more people to use alternative means to get around, not discourage cyclists through making their dedicated infrastructure unsafe.”

A Freight Transport Association spokesman said: “Making better use of valuable road space by allowing trucks to use bus lanes not only eases congestion, but helps to keep delivery costs down and ensures food and other vital supplies arrive on time at our shops and homes, something that benefits everyone.”

Discussions will be held with highways groups, including the Traffic Commissioner for Wales. The conclusions are due to be published by the Welsh Government in 2019.