Bus lanes could return to Liverpool streets

Bus lanes could be reactivated on Liverpool’s roads almost a decade after they were scrapped.

In a bid to deliver greener journeys and tackle congestion on the bus network, priority lanes could be introduced across Liverpool as part of a new transport plan to be adopted by the city council next week.

Back in October 2014, then-Mayor Joe Anderson pressed ahead with plans to do away with bus lanes throughout the city following a year-long trial.

Now, the new Labour administration is expected to ratify a four-year transport strategy that would include the adoption of five new priority routes across the city.

In the wide-ranging document, to be discussed by Liverpool Council cabinet members on Wednesday, a series of lanes have been identified that could be adopted as the authority seeks to encourage people to choose public transport over their cars by 2027. The plan said, “Our vision is one where people default to walk or cycle for their journeys where possible and choose to avoid using the car.

“They will be supported to do this through the provision of a safe, accessible and inclusive transport system, powered by clean vehicles.”

As part of this, priority bus lanes could be adopted on five of the busiest routes in the wider city region, including 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.

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 provides 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.

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.

Cllr Dan Barrington, cabinet member for transport and connectivity, said, “The Liverpool Transport Plan connects together all of the changes we need to make to improve our health and our environment and it lays out a coherent road map to making an impact. The Transport Plan also lays bare the stark reality that car usage needs to be dramatically reduced.

“From a climate change and air quality perspective our reliance on the car is unsustainable. And in many ways its impractical with almost two-thirds of all car journeys less than 5km, we need to make it much easier, safer and more convenient for people to get around by walking or cycling.

“I’m really excited by all the work that is going on behind the scenes to start making these changes and the way forward is clear. Delivering green bus routes, green active travel corridors, transport plans for schools and businesses and more on-street electric charging is all doable over the next four years.”

Cllr Barrington said the plan would aim to improve the city’s air quality, road safety and obesity rates, adding how they would “make our neighbourhoods and city a more pleasant place to live in.” He added: “The rewards of embracing this Transport Plan will be worth it.”

Image credit: Bruno Martins

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