Belfast Telegraph

Time to get streetwise on bus lanes

By David McNarry

In 2013, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said bus lanes "simply don't work". Liverpool Council proceeded to initiate a trial which involved suspending 26 bus lanes and analysing the effect on traffic flow.

Interestingly, Liverpool decided in 2014 to remove all bus lanes except four in the city centre, which were always going to be re-introduced.

Salford city councillors have followed Liverpool's lead in calling for a review of bus lanes. Tory councillor Robin Garrido stated: "What Liverpool has done seems pretty sensible to me."

Coincidently, Edinburgh has decided that restrictions on a third of bus lanes are to be relaxed in a bid to keep traffic moving.

All-day bus lanes will be scrapped, bringing 90% of them into sync - giving drivers peace of mind that they won't incur fines outside rush hour.

Mayor Anderson of Liverpool is also on record as stating: "I regard it as immoral to see bus lanes as just being a cash-cow for the council."

If we substitute 'Department for Regional Development' for 'council' it sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Yet, in Belfast, instead of removing bus lanes, we are increasing these notorious time-wasting, anti-motorist, chaos-causing nuisances.

It's time Belfast got streetwise and reclaimed the road space for all road users.

These protected bus lanes have slowed down on-street parking, turning driving though the city into dodgem, white-knuckle rides. They cause havoc to city deliveries and pedestrians fear them.

Let's have a Liverpool-style review, with everyone having their say and not just the fancy-dan enforcers in DRD pushing home what's good for us.

Hire a car and go for a crazy run outside the bus lanes. Hire a taxi and listen to the driver's comments. It doesn't stack up, and it all adds up to a bus lane strategy holding Belfast back as a cosmopolitan city seeking to attract tourists and corporate bookings, and rewarding the investments in social hospitality.

Pay attention, DRD, to what is happening in Liverpool, Salford and Edinburgh, and is under consideration in many other cities.

  • David McNarry MLA is Ukip leader in the Northern Ireland Assembly

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