All-day car ban for Hull's bus lanes proposed by Stagecoach and EYMS
DRIVERS could be banned from bus lanes all day on main routes into the city under a radical new proposal being put to roads bosses.
Hull's big two bus companies EYMS and Stagecoach have asked Hull City Council to ban any other vehicle, except taxis, from using the bus lanes from 7am to 7pm.
They also want cameras installed along the routes to catch and fine motorists skipping into the lanes. Peter Shipp, chairman of the region's biggest bus operator EYMS, also wants "queue jumping" lights at some busy roundabouts and junctions so buses are given a priority in the left hand lane with a light that turns green before other traffic can set off. He said: "We are looking for the restriction to be enforced from 7am to 7pm. It would help reduce fuel consumption, improve traffic flow and give more consistency to our bus times which would be a big benefit to bus users.
"The current system is not good enough.
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"We also think there's a case to install cameras on the lanes to prevent motorists from using the lanes during these hours."
At the moment, three main bus lanes in Hull – in Beverley Road, Holderness Road and Anlaby Road – are restricted to buses only at rush hour.
Even then, the bus operators say the rules are regularly flouted by some motorists.
Now, Mr Shipp has made a formal approach to the city council to tighten up the rules. EYMS and Stagecoach want Hull roads bosses to visit Nottingham, where cameras have been installed and are now self-funding from fines given to motorists breaking the rules.
Mr Shipp highlighted Holderness Road as a particular problem because bus lanes are regularly clogged with parked cars and delivery trucks during the day.
He said: "Holderness Road can be pretty terrible during the day. Because of vehicles parked on each side of the road, it effectively comes down to one lane for all the traffic."
On the queue-jumping lights, Mr Shipp said at busy junctions, a short section of bus lane before the junction – together with a dedicated traffic light to give buses a head start – would also help traffic flow across the city.
He said: "There are a number of ways we could improve the traffic in Hull.
"Thousands of people use buses every day and this would improve their journeys as well as improving fuel consumption and traffic flow."
Dave Skepper, commercial director for Stagecoach, said he shared Mr Shipp's concerns about congestion and believes making the lanes apply all day may tackle it.
He said: "We are keen to see bus priority expanded in Hull.
"Stagecoach makes 18 million trips annually in Hull and the passenger feedback we get suggests punctuality is their top priority.
"However, unlike other forms of public transport such as trains that have their own track, we share the road with other methods of transport.
"Unfortunately, there can be considerable delays in hotspots around Hull."
Mr Skepper believes shaving minutes off journey times is the way to persuade more drivers to take the bus.
"We want drivers to be able to see buses getting past traffic jams," he said.
Motorists gave mixed verdicts to the proposals yesterday.
Driving instructor Mike Collins warned making the bus lanes operational all day could actually worsen congestion.
He said: "In my experience, the majority of drivers are ignorant of the times bus lanes are operational. To play it safe and to avoid being caught, people tend to keep out the lanes.
"If the hours are extended, it is possible congestion will increase, because the few drivers who do use the lanes correctly and make a bit of progress will have to use the other lanes."
Harry Gregg, 58, a production manager from Roos, said: "It could help improve the flow of traffic on the city's main routes.
"But it needs to be well thought-out.
"The council and bus companies need to look at how they will persuade people to use the buses.
"I would use the buses but only if they made it worthwhile for me. I'd want to see a park and ride on the east side of Hull."
Adam Fowler, of the City of Hull & Humber Environment Forum, which runs travel surgeries for passengers, believes the move could help tackle congestion problems.
He said: "There is certainly significant congestion on the three main bus lanes, especially Holderness Road.
"We want to see a fast and efficient flow of commuters. Buses, which can carry 70 people, are the way to do that.
"It would have to be policed properly, but before any of that, there needs to be a proper consultation with drivers.
"It will only work if drivers are made aware of the value of public transport."
Laura Copley, 28, of Holderness Road, east Hull, does not drive and relies on buses to go shopping in town.
She said: "Being a bus user, I am all for it. Congestion on my road is really bad.
"Banning cars from bus lanes for longer might improve the situation."
Graham Hall, assistant head of service for asset and transport management at Hull City Council, said: "We met the bus companies only days ago to discuss how we can improve the flow of buses in the city through the use of bus lanes.
"We agreed to look at the possibility of additional bus priorities and the potential for other forms of enforcement, which includes looking at other cities to see how they do things."