A scheme designed to ease congestion at a traffic blackspot in Bradford has actually increased journey times for both buses and cars, it has emerged.
The short car share lane was installed along the A650 as well as measures designed to ease congestion on the Tong Street corridor, such as changes to pedestrian crossings, at a cost of £300,000 to Bradford Council.
It opened in March and was expected to improve bus times by up to ten minutes, up to 12 minutes for vehicles carrying two or more people, and up to eight minutes for other vehicles, during peak times. But a traffic survey completed last month as the six-month trial period came to an end has shown a very different picture.
Journey times were measured along the A650 between the New Hey Road and Neville Road roundabout on Wakefield Road and the A650 Whitehall Road and the A58 Drighlington by-pass roundabout.
And the results show that there has been a “significant increase” in car journey times in the morning peak driving in to Bradford of three minutes and 15 seconds, and driving out of one minute and 43 seconds. The evening peak has also seen a slight increase in overall journey times, with inbound times going up by an average of six seconds and outbound by 46 seconds.
Inbound bus times have also increased slightly – on average by 30 seconds or less, whereas outbound services have increased by at least two minutes and 30 seconds.
In both instances the 549 metre-long car share lane section of the journey has resulted in improved travel times for that section – 12 seconds for multi-occupancy vehicles – as well as 12 seconds in the morning for buses and 54 seconds in the evening. But it is difficulties further along Tong Street, as well as construction work on the M62 resulting in frequent congestion on the motorway and the subsequent displacement of some traffic on to the A650, that are blamed for the extra delays.
Councillor Imran Khan (Lab, Bowling and Barkerend) said Tong Street was an “absolute nightmare” but that the car share lane alone would not ease journeys to that extent and that any extra funding for major works on the corridor should be pressed for. “Under the current circumstances, with the major knock-on effect that work on the M62 is having, I think it is worth giving it a bit more time,” he said.
Councillor Val Slater, the Council’s portfolio holder for transport, said she was “disappointed” the promised reduction in journey times had not immediately been realised.
“However, it seems that there are a number of complicated issues here that are inter-related – the impact of the pedestrian crossings, the ongoing work on the M62, issues at the other end of Tong Street near the Drighlington by-pass roundabout, as well as people illegally using the high-occupancy vehicle road, and whether or not that’s being properly enforced.”
In a report, which will be discussed next week at a joint meeting of Bradford South and East area committees, it states that publicity surrounding the 2+ lane does not appear to have had any impact on the amount of car sharing along the corridor.
And while bus services are not faster, Arriva is pleased that the changes have improved reliability, it adds.
In addition, police have carried out two separate crackdowns, handing out fixed penalty notices to drivers using the high-occupancy lane illegally.
Over five days in May and June 63 fines were handed out, while over the same number of days in October, 58 fines were given out.
The report recommends that the trial period continue.