Coventry City Council is set to suspend a number of bus lanes in the city as part of a six month trial.
The proposal follows a pledge made by the leader of the council, Cllr George Duggins earlier this year. If the trial is approved by cabinet at its meeting on 29 November the trial will begin in January next year.
Coventry has seen an increase of 20% in traffic in the past 15 years according to a report by the Department for Transport. The same report also suggests that Coventry has the fastest rising levels of congestion due to population and economic growth.
In the face of increasing congestion and air quality issues, leader of the council and bus user, Cllr George Duggins said, "I'm delighted that we are getting this trial underway and that we have been able to agree it with bus operators. As a bus user I know how important public transport is. But also know how frustrating it can be to be stuck in a queue with an empty lane next to you.
"We want to keep traffic moving around the city for everyone. So, we’re going to suspend a number of bus lanes and monitor whether traffic flow improves. We’ll also be checking bus times to see whether the changes have an impact on journey times.
“The changes will mean that we can work with bus operators to develop and implement more effective means of improving bus journey time reliability and hopefully encourage more people to use buses to ease congestion.”
There are currently 22 bus lanes in Coventry, totalling 8km in length. In addition, there are bus priority measures at 9 signalised junctions. All bus lanes in Coventry operate 24 hours a day.
Councillor Jayne Innes, Cabinet Member for City Services said: “We've got lots of very good data for car and bus journey times so this trial will be really interesting. And it's good to know that our roads are busy because we are a growing and successful city. What we need to do, is ensure we balance the needs of all road users and that's what this trial is all about."
The bus lanes that will be suspended are:
Peter Coates, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said: "One full bus takes 50 cars off the road. Buses are the solution to the air quality problems that blight the West Midlands and damage vulnerable people's health.
“We will be participating in Coventry's six-month bus lane review. We will share our data with the city council to fully evaluate the impact on our customers and the city as a whole."
The bus lanes will be suspended from January 2017 and will run for six months under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order. Works will also be undertaken in January and February to tell all road users to use the suspended bus lanes, this will involve changes to signs and lines on the road as well as changes to the running of traffic signals to assist buses to keep to their timetables. After six months, Council officers will report their findings back to Council so further decisions can be made.