The industry’s two main trade associations have welcomed the start of a trial in Liverpool designed to test the effect on congestion of removing the city’s bus lanes.

The trial, which began on 21 October, will last nine months and sees all Liverpool’s bus lanes being suspended – along with the £700m a year they generate in fines on motorists.

Commenting on the start of the trial, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said the move would establish whether bus lanes in the city had done anything to alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow.

“The evidence we have suggests that bus lanes are not benefiting the city as planned, that they may actually be making congestion worse,” he said.   “At the end of the trial, we will look at all the evidence before making a decision on which, if any, of the bus lanes will be reinstated.”

Best use of road space

Noting that the trial had no direct bearing on truck operators but would free up road space, FTA head of policy for the north of England, Malcolm Bingham, said: “It will be interesting to see how it works. There are certain areas where bus lanes seem to be put in place as a fashion item and don’t get much use. In those circumstances, it’s a complete waste of decent road space.”

RHA director of policy Jack Semple added: “My understanding is that this [trial] is because they weren’t being very well used and on that basis, it sounds like Liverpool is going to get much better usage out of its available road capacity.”

Both stressed that where priority lanes are in use, they should be opened up to goods vehicles as well as buses. “There are certain types of traffic that should be prioritised and obviously, vehicles getting goods to the marketplace are part of that,” said Bingham.

“We’re not saying it would be appropriate in all instances but there are many bus lanes that are seriously underused,” commented Semple.