Conservatives press for six month limit on Dorchester Street Bus Gate trial

Bath and North East Somerset Council is facing pressure to limit a controversial new bus lane on Bath’s Dorchester Street to a maximum six-month trial period.

Conservative councillors are demanding that the Liberal Democrat-run authority review the experimental bus gate after its first six months of operation before deciding whether or not to make the scheme permanent. The new bus lane is currently due to be introduced from the 20th January for a period of up to eighteen months, with a view to it becoming permanent.

Conservatives have tabled a proposal which calls upon the Council to limit the trial period to no more than six months, and asks the authority to publish a set of measurable criteria against which the success of bus gate can be judged. Conservative councillors have also said the matter should come back to a future Council meeting for further debate before a final decision is taken on making the bus gate permanent.

The issue will be discussed by councillors at a meeting of B&NES Council next Thursday 26th January.

The authority’s ruling Liberal Democrats have been criticised by Conservatives for failing to address concerns that the new bus gate will add to congestion on nearby roads. The Council’s own assessment suggests the bus lane could increase traffic on the A36 Pulteney Road by an additional 160 cars an hour at peak times, with up to an additional 130 cars an hour displaced onto North Parade.

Conservatives have also said that such traffic schemes should form part of a wider transport plan for the city rather than being implemented on a piecemeal basis.

Conservative shadow transport spokesman, Cllr Anthony Clarke (Cons, Lansdown), said:

“The failure to properly engage with residents over these plans means most people have no idea what the Lib Dems are hoping to achieve by implementing this new bus gate. Genuine concerns over the additional traffic this will push onto the A36 and North Parade have also been totally ignored by the Council.

“These kinds of isolated road schemes, which are not part of a wider transport vision for the city, do nothing to address Bath’s traffic problems and only make matters worse.

“Conservatives are therefore calling on B&NES to limit this experimental bus lane to a maximum six-month trial period, and to pause the trial before work starts on the Rossiter Road alterations. If the Lib Dems plough on regardless, residents will simply conclude the Council has no interest in cutting congestion and is simply hoping to raise extra money in future through more bus gate fines.”

City centre councillor Brian Webber (Cons, Abbey) has also backed the calls for the bus gate to be limited to a six-month trial. He said:

“Many residents in my ward are concerned about the potential impact of this new bus gate. The Council should publish a set of measurable criteria against which the success of the bus gate can be judged before allowing councillors and the public to decide whether or not it should become permanent.”