Bus Lanes Cause Chaos Not Calm
Figures released this week tell us that the average driving speed in London is now 5.13mph. In Manchester, it’s 6.57, and in Glasgow a lightning 6.82.
You could get to your destination faster by hopping. With your grandma chained to your leg.
You don’t need to be an expert to work out why. Despite this, the geniuses at telematics firm In-Car Cleverness have wheeled one out to tell us that it’s all down to increased traffic, expanded pedestrian zones… and more bus lanes.
But have you ever actually seen a bus in a bus lane? The last recorded sighting was in June 1997 on Kensington High Street. Automotive twitchers came from as far away as Norfolk with their binoculars and notebooks to record the event.
Of course, bus lanes are just the subplot. The main narrative here is that men in brown suits from your local council want to stop you from driving. They want you to travel by mule and live in houses made from dung.
If you won’t do that, then they’ll make you pay through your schnozz. Latest figures show that almost 4,000 motorists each day get fined for driving in bus lanes. The most lucrative camera makes £6,000 every 24 hours. That’s nearly as much as Gary Lineker. And twice as much as Gabby Logan.
Truly, no polar bears will die in vain. Our furry Arctic cousins have raised billions of pounds for the UK government. Indeed, in 2015-16, local authorities raked in around £31m from bus lanes.
But what successive governments fail to understand is that we need to get to work. We need to get little Sophia to school. On time.
Doing all that by public transport would involve getting out of bed at a time favoured by irritating online success gurus who breakfast on kale and duck-blood soup. And then you’d need to hunt down an actual bus. You’d need a private detective.
British drivers are spending an average of 32 hours a year stuck in jams during peak periods. There are London brokers living in Oxshott who couldn’t pick out their own kids in an identity parade.
Traffic data firm Inrix recently reported that the direct and indirect costs of hold-ups on our roads reached £31bn last year – an average of £968 per driver.
Here at Regit, we look upon avoidable delays with the same affection that mice reserve for the Cats’ Protection League.
But there’s hope yet. In 2014, tree-hugging Liverpool City Council astonishingly backed plans to scrap all but four of its 26 bus lanes after a year-long trial without them.
The move followed an independent review that included data from researchers who travelled as bus passengers.
Once they’d removed the chewing gum from their pants, they concluded that buses were being slowed down by negotiating the city centre, cars waiting to turn right, and vehicles parked obstructively. The bus lanes themselves were said to offer only ‘marginal benefits’ to passengers.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, who introduced the trial, said that bus lanes ‘simply don't work’ and that it was wrong to use motorists as a ‘cash cow’. In 2012, Liverpool’s bus lanes raked in more than £3.7m in fines.
Anderson, described by Green Party fanatics as a ‘piecrust-snorting wizard’ on Twitter, seems to have had some success with his scheme.
During the trial, the number of bus passengers in Liverpool increased, while the rise in emission changes was ‘negligible’ in the bus lane sections. And accidents, which rose before the start of the trial, fell month on month during the experiment.
This is a move that even polar bears would back.