Broken promises for bus lane

PLANS for a bus lane in Hartford could completely frustrate its purpose of reducing journey times for guided buses when services are introduced in 2009, say campaigners. They say a plan by Cambridgeshire County Council to allow not only public service bus

PLANS for a bus lane in Hartford could completely frustrate its purpose of reducing journey times for guided buses when services are introduced in 2009, say campaigners.

They say a plan by Cambridgeshire County Council to allow not only public service buses, but works buses, taxis, private hire cars and emergency service vehicles to use a re-opened Old Houghton Road would simply cause traffic jams in the bus lane.

Hartford Conservation Group accepts that it has lost the battle to prevent re-opening of the road, which has become a wildlife haven and recreation area for local people.

But it says the county has reneged on an earlier agreement to limit traffic to buses and emergency services.


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The plans include traffic signals at the junction of Old Houghton Road and Main Street intended to give priority to buses joining the traffic, which backs up as far as the A141 roundabout in the morning peak. The effect of allowing other vehicles onto the bus lane would be gridlock for the very vehicles the £330,000 scheme is designed to help, the group says.

Conservation group chairman Angela Owen-Smith, who lives in Old Houghton Road, says the council in its new draft traffic regulation order has also gone back on a promise that the rising-bollard-controlled bus lane would be available only between 6am and midnight, instead of 24-hours-a-day, as now proposed.

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"At no time throughout the planning, discussion and public inquiry has it ever been suggested that this section of road would be re-opened for 24 hours and to more than a few buses - seven an hour on a worst-case assumption - without further consideration," she said.

"If Old Houghton Road is opened to the variety of vehicles described, it will negate the benefits of shorter travel times for the guided bus. It may also result in traffic taking short cuts through The Grove, a private road maintained by the local residents at their cost.

"Old Houghton Road is a local amenity used by many families, older people, dog walkers, disabled people and cyclists. Opening the road to this wide range of traffic will make it completely unsafe and unusable and put these users in danger."

At the guided bus public inquiry in 2004 the county council accepted that rising bollards would not keep motorcyclists out - but it planned to install cameras so that errant riders could be prosecuted.

A county council spokesman said the draft was a device to enable public consultation on the principles of the traffic regulation order for the bus lane.

"If there are objections to taxis and other vehicles, they will certainly be taken into account. Absolutely no decision has been made, and there will be a further period of consultation on the order proposed by the traffic management area joint committee in due course.

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