Liverpool City Council has confirmed that some of the 24 bus lanes removed from the city’s streets will be returned as part of its four-year transport strategy. In a move criticised by operators and environmental groups, the lanes were removed in 2014 after a year-long trial instigated by then mayor Joe Anderson, who argued that they added to the city’s congestion.
The council now plans to bring back five of the removed bus lanes to encourage public transport use, following approval of the proposal at a cabinet meeting. The bus lanes will include on stretches of routes 10A between Liverpool and St Helens, 86 to Speke and John Lennon Airport, 53 to Bootle and Crosby, 79 to Halewood and Widnes and the 20/21 to Kirkby.
The council’s deputy leader Dan Barrington said the plans would help cut the number of journeys taken by car, and that there would also be upgrades to traffic lights, bus stops and shelters.
Deputy leader of the council Ruth Bennett, who also serves as cabinet member for finances, resources and transformation, said: “I’ve spent seven years nagging to get bus lanes back in Netherley on the 79 route. I’m in an area that relies heavily on public transport and removal of the bus lanes made a difference and added to people’s travel time.”
Council leader Liam Robinson added that public transport must become a first choice, not a last resort. However, former mayor Joe Anderson says he strongly opposes their reintroduction. “It will make no difference whatsoever [to the] massive increase in the number of cars, [it is] creating another barrier to the flow of traffic [and] will add to congestion not solve it. There is no evidence to suggest the removal of bus lanes has caused delays or congestion,” he posted online.
At the time of their removal, bus operators said the move showed a complete disregard for passengers, and it was said around £700,000 a year was generated for the city in fines with bus lanes in operation.