Liverpool City Council has chosen to remove all but four of the city’s bus lanes, a move which has drawn criticism from Stagecoach.
The operator highlighted a report which showed that, after the bus lanes had been suspended, the variability of journey times increased by an average of 20%, and by as much as 71% on one route. A control sample showed that journey times for bus users and non-bus users increased during the suspension period, when compared to previous years, by 1.1% and 1.5% respectively.
Stagecoach claimed that on a number of the routes on which bus lanes are being scrapped, journey time increases were recorded for both bus and non-bus journeys. An increase to bus journey was recorded on 13 of the 22 routes that are set to lose their bus lanes.
Stagecoach conceded that a small number of the existing bus lanes are not essential, but argued that the road conditions created by the permanent removal of the majority of the bus lanes – with no guarantee of alternative measures being put in place – could potentially lead to bus operators failing to meet the punctuality standards set by the Traffic Commissioner.
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said: “We are disappointed by this decision which will have a lasting impact on bus users in the city. However, it does not come as a surprise. It is clear that the needs of the thousands of people who rely on bus services every single day across Liverpool are not seen as a priority by the city council. Councillors have also chosen to ignore the findings of the report which showed that the removal of these bus lanes will, in a number of cases, increase journey times for all road users.
“The job of bus operators is to run reliable bus services for local people – part of a local authority’s job is to support operators in being able to deliver that. Both bus passengers and operators have been let down by the council’s decision. Instead of encouraging people to use greener forms of transport to help reduce congestion and pollution in the city, councillors have decided to create space for even more cars to the detriment of local bus passengers. We believe this is an irresponsible decision which could well come back to haunt them.
“Our main priority now is to assess what this means for our services going forward. It is vital that the city centre bus lanes are reinstated immediately and the council must commit to deliver other measures to improve traffic flow in areas where the bus lanes are being permanently removed.”