Azara Blog: M4 bus lane allegedly going to be scrapped

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Date published: 2010/10/03

The BBC says:

The controversial M4 bus lane is to be scrapped at the end of the year.

All motorists will again be able to use the 3.5-mile (5.6km) lane, which operates on the London-bound carriageway from near Heathrow Airport.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed the move, saying the bus lane was "not effective".

It will be suspended from 24 December for 18 months when the lane comes back into use for the Olympics, after which it will be scrapped for good.

The motorway's third lane between junctions three and two - which carries about 7% of London-bound traffic - is reser

ved for buses, licensed black taxis and motorcycles. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Hammond argued that the bus lane was symbolic of Labour's ''war on the motorist''.

He said: "Well it was a piece of folly wasn't it?

"Introduced 10 years ago, predicted not to be effective and in fact that's been the experience of most people.

"They sit sweltering in traffic queues watching an empty lane by the side of them with just the occasional vehicle going down it."

The bus lane was introduced by then Transport Secretary John Prescott in 1999.

It became known by some as the "Blair lane" after the former prime minister used it to avoid heavy traffic.

Mr Prescott responded to Mr Hammond's comments in his blog, saying: "Studies by the independent Transport Research Laboratory proved the M4 bus lane succeeded in reducing traffic jams.
...
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) said it was disappointed with the move.

Bob Oddy, general secretary of the LTDA, said: "Thousands of cab journeys are made from Heathrow every day and the vast majority of those come into London.

"This means we won't be able to use that lane and it will be a great inconvenience to us and to our customers who, if they get caught in traffic, will end up paying more money."

The main problem with the "bus" lane was that it was seriously under-utilised and so a waste of resources. But the second problem was that it was not so much a "bus" lane as a lane for rich people to get about more quickly. So not just Blair, but taxi passengers, who for some reason are put in the same category of privileged road users as bus passengers, up and down the country. Indeed the LTDA takes the prize for silly commentary. It might be a "great inconvenience" for their customers, but no more than anyone else stuck in the traffic, and needless to say the drivers themselves will hardly suffer since the longer the journey takes, the more money they will make.

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