Fishergate’s bus lanes are being withdrawn – until next Christmas.Advertisement
Update: The county council now says Fishergate bus lane to continue until April
Lancashire County Council says the two bus lanes, between Butler Street and Corporation Street and Mount Street and Corporation Street, are to be shelved.
Fines of £60 had been issued to thousands of motorists in Preston and beyond since the measures were introduced in late October.
At one stage the county council was issuing 7,269 penalty notices a week for the Fishergate restricted lane, which operated from 11am to 6pm.
But the county council says the bus lane was introduced as an experiment to solve the gridlock during the run up to Christmas in Preston city centre – an experiment it says has worked.
Cabinet member for highways and transport county councillor John Fillis told the Lancashire Evening Post it was the first time they hadn’t seen complaints about congestion in the city centre – particularly the car parks.
Read more: Former shops to be torn down in Cannon Street development
The bus lanes are now to be reviewed by the county council and they will decide whether to reinstate them permanently or only for temporary periods such as the run up to Christmas. The signage and rules will be removed in the coming weeks.
Leader of Preston City Council councillor Peter Rankin said in response to the Fishergate decision: “Like many cities, Preston suffers from traffic congestion. There have been major problems in the city centre at busy periods, especially in and around Fishergate, while there is total gridlock when the motorway is closed.
“Unfortunately, highways and transport matters in Preston are not the responsibility of the City Council, strange as that might seem. The County Council is the transport authority, although the City Council is consulted on specific issues.
“To be fair to County Highways, changes to the traffic flow in Fishergate were at the instigation of city centre retailers with the aim of alleviating the problem of people being trapped in St Georges car park unable to move out on to Fishergate. It was always intended as a temporary measure to get us through the Christmas and New Year congestion. Some of the measures may be made permanent e.g. the left turn only out of Butler Street has been very successful.
“Preston councillors are generally concerned about how traffic is being dealt with by County Highways. Rather than deal with these issues in a piecemeal fashion, e.g. there are now proposals to alter traffic flow in the vicinity of the bus station, I believe we need to look closely across the board at how traffic is dealt with as it enters and leaves the city centre areas. Growth of the city could mean many more vehicles coming into the city centre over the next 5-10 years. City Deal has planned for roads round the city and in and out of the city but routes and traffic within the city need further close attention.
“As we are partners with the County Council and South Ribble Council in the City Deal I have asked that the City Deal Executive support the development of an overall strategy for traffic management. A thorough investigation of traffic movements and possible solutions is needed to ensure that Preston’s bright future is not put in jeopardy through traffic chaos. Undoubtedly we have too many cars on our roads, like many cities, but we must try and deal with this in a coherent way.
“As a car driver and cyclist, I try and avoiding driving into the city centre. Cycling is quicker from Ashton!”
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Meanwhile the county council is pushing ahead with introducing a new section of bus lane in Tithebarn Street, near the Bus Station – and changing the road priorities around Preston Markets.
Read more: How Preston responded to another bus lane coming to the city centre
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