M4 Bus Lane Could Make Comeback
Parliamentary report says restoration should be considered
A parliamentary report has raised the possibility of a reinstatement of the M4 Bus Lane despite studies showing that its removal has led to a reduction in journey times. The report called 'Out of the Jam' which was presented to a transport select committee concludes that reinstatement should be considered if it can be that the lane has led to faster movement for more people rather than more vehicles.
The 3.5 mile bus lane on the eastbound carriageway of the M4 motorway, between Heathrow Airport and central London was introduced by Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott in 2001.
It was suspended at the end 2010 and both lanes were reverted to all-traffic use. The bus lane will be reinstated temporarily for the 2012 London Olympics as a 'Games Lane' for accredited Olympic athletes, officials and others. The expectation was that the lane would be scrapped permanently after the Olympics.
Figures presented by the Department for Transport show that since the suspension of the M4 Bus Lane, journey times eastbound have shown an improvement of around 40 seconds from Junction 4 on the M4 to Chiswick Roundabout (Junction 1). A more in-depth analysis is planned this year to validate these figures.
However, the Campaign for Better Transport is still arguing for the lane's restoration describing it as "a particular example which can help as part of overall traffic management." They say that although only 7% of vehicles on the M4 travel into London on the lane, a fifth of people use it.
However, Ministers have refuted this point; Norman Baker MP said that "the bus lane was not largely used and was used particularly for coaches" and Mike Penning MP told the transport select committee that the bus lane "was not doing the job it was designed to do and was creating a more congested area before the elevated section of the M4, which is why we made the decision, after consultation, to remove it".
The report to the transport select committee has concluded that the bus lane should be reinstated if it was shown, after a detailed assessment of traffic flow, that it contributed to faster movement taking into account all travellers.
September 17, 2011