The trouble with living life in the bus lane

By Mr Brocklebank on Sep 26, 13 06:54 PM in Liverpool Mayor

bus_lane.jpgA CITY which has the lowest rates of car ownership in the UK and is striving to become the Green Capital of Europe is not, some might think, the most necessary or most logical place to scrap bus lanes.

Nonetheless, Mayor Joe Anderson has decided to pander to the petrol heads and suspend the 24 bus lanes.

He has decided that they're not working and not really increasing the number of people using public transport, so he's decided to do what any brave, visionary leader does when faced with a challenge - quit while he's behind.

Apparently, according to Uncle Joe, the bus lanes might actually be increasing congestion and are creating traffic to build up in the outside lanes, where motorists are sitting waiting to traverse the bus lanes themselves in order to continue their journeys.

Some might argue that one of the problems with bus lanes is that the cost of travelling by bus is hardly cheap. Maybe if the firms that are now so enraged by his plans reduced their costs it would be an incentive for more people to travel by bus.

Indeed there may be too many people still using their cars, who no matter what will not venture out from behind the illegally tinted windows of their 4x4s and deign to clamber aboard the 'peasant wagon'.

And it would appear it is to those types, rather than to the low-income families who simply can't afford a car and must rely on the buses to get to work or wherever else it is they need to go, that Mayor Joe is pandering.

What this move says about the Mayor's grasp of the council's financial situation is also intriguing. Bus lanes brought in over £3m between 2009 and 2012 - money that was pumped back into the highways network.

But it seems, rather than motorists be used "as a cash cow", that £700,000 a year is going to be foregone by the ebullient council.

With absolutely nothing to deter people from jumping behind the wheel, putting more pressure on the road network, that money would surely have come in handy.

OF COURSE, there is always a very slim chance that there is a Baldrick-style cunning plan behind this seemingly bizarre move to axe bus lanes.

As with many things the council does, confusion is likely to reign supreme for some time.
The road markings will have to be painted over, and the signage taken down. All this to be completed by mid-October when the suspensions come into force.

Of course, there may be those out there who already think the lanes have been suspended who will, of course be receiving their £30 fines through the door and still be expected to pay.

Perhaps all the chaos and confusion could see quite a spike in the number of fines being dished out between now and late October.

That should take some of the sting out of this audacious move.

BUS company bosses were livid that this decision was made by Mayor Joe on a "gut-feeling" rather than proper evidence.

"Any decision which has the potential to result in such a negative impact on city centre traffic ... should be as a result of serious, professional investigation and discussion regarding the possible outcomes," said Arriva.

But Mayor Joe would argue whatever feeling is rumbling around in his gut was based on some evidence.

Well, it was certainly based on more evidence than the decision to impose an elected Mayor of the city.

But that's not saying much.

Dale Street Associates

David Bartlett

David Bartlett

City editor of the Post and Echo covering politics, regeneration, and urban affairs.
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