‘Add to congestion’ - Former Liverpool mayor slams decision to bring back bus lanes

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Joe Anderson said evidence gathered in 2013 identified that dedicated lanes for public transport were not benefitting the city as planned.

Liverpool's former Mayor, who scrapped bus lanes throughout the city almost a decade ago, has come out strongly against their reintroduction.

Back in 2014, after a lengthy trial Joe Anderson asked his cabinet to back plans to do away with two dozen bus lanes stretching throughout the city. Mr Anderson, who led the council for 11 years from 2010 to 2021, said evidence gathered by Liverpool Council back in 2013 identified that dedicated lanes for public transport were not benefitting the city as planned.

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Now, with proposals put forward that could reintroduce lanes on five priority routes, the former Mayor has waded into the debate against the plan.

It was revealed earlier this week how as part of a four-year transport plan, the current Labour administration is seeking to bring back five bus lanes as part of its bid to deliver faster, more reliable and greener journeys.

Should the transport plan be adopted when the cabinet meets next week, priority lanes will be installed along the 10A Liverpool to St Helens, the 86 from Liverpool to Speke and John Lennon Airport, the 53 service from Liverpool to Bootle and Crosby, the 79 route from Liverpool to Halewood and Widnes, as well as the 20/21 from Liverpool to Kirkby, Tower Hill.

Former Mayor Anderson came out strongly against the proposals on social media. He poured cold water on the idea of them bringing about success.

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He posted: “It will make no difference whatsoever the massive increase in the number of cars, is the problem creating another barrier to the flow of traffic will add to congestion not solve it. There is no evidence to suggest the removal of bus lanes has caused delays or congestion.”

Mr Anderson’s decision to scrap the bus lanes nine years ago was met with hostility from bus operators, who said the move showed “complete disregard” for passengers. Three years after doing away with the lanes, the ex-Mayor said it was wrong to use motorists as cash cows, and that the majority of lanes “simply [didn’t] work”.

According to fresh cabinet documents, the programme will be developed in partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) and would provide what the city council describes as “transformational improvements” to deliver faster, more reliable and greener journeys. The five new lanes would provide dedicated road space for bus and active travels, as well as upgrades being made to junctions to give buses priority.

Traffic signals, bus stops and shelters would also be upgraded in a bid to reflect bus priority. Improvements to stops would aim to improve accessibility as well as speeding up boarding and alighting.

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Currently, 62% of journeys across Merseyside are taken by car. The city council hopes the wide-ranging four year plan can shift attitudes away from getting behind the wheel.

Further bus links have been earmarked for around Liverpool Waters developments and Bramley Moore Dock stadium, central Liverpool and the Knowledge Quarter to improve commuter and retail links, as well as improving connectivity in the south of the city. A further six areas have been identified as potential traffic-free green corridors, which link parks, green spaces and recreational sites with centres of employment, homes and community activity.

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