“Flawed and data deficient” says leading Institute about Liverpool’s decision to suspend bus lanes - CILT(UK)
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“Flawed and data deficient” says leading Institute about Liverpool’s decision to suspend bus lanes

14 March 2014/Categories: CILT, Press Releases, Industry News


Reviewing the effectiveness of Liverpool’s bus lanes is perfectly justifiable but the decision by the city’s Mayor and Council to suspend all of the city’s bus lanes in a nine month trial was rushed through and based on evidence that was flawed and suffered from a severe data deficit.  Furthermore, it could even deter other local authorities around Britain from introducing measures that promote public transport to ease urban traffic congestion.

This hard-hitting view is contained in a response to the City’s consultation on the scheme submitted by the respected Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK).  The Institute believes that the evidence used by the Mayor and Council to make its decision in 2013 was deficient in both quantitative and qualitative analysis and data which will make proper evaluation of the impact of the bus lane suspension impossible.

The Institute believes that this issue is not just important for Liverpool but has wider national implications, particularly in ensuring that local transport policies do not: 
• Contravene national policies for the management of traffic congestion;
• Prejudice the ability of bus operators to run services efficiently and effectively; and,
• Risk setting unfortunate precedents for other towns and cities. 

Austin Birks, Chairman of the Institute’s Bus and Coach Forum that has more than 2,000 industry professionals, including many council traffic and transport officers as well as bus managers, said:

“The Mayor of Liverpool’s desire to review the effectiveness of bus lanes is perfectly commendable, but it needs a clear rationale which is plainly lacking here.  The decision to suspend bus lanes appears rushed and is based on flimsy ‘evidence’ that is mainly predicated on a discredited approach (i.e. reviewing movements by vehicle rather than person). In a city with lower than average car ownership but also growing tourism, permanently removing all bus lanes has the potential to damage the city economically and socially.

“We urge the City Council and its Mayor to terminate what appears to be an ill-considered experiment before any greater damage is done to the city’s reputation as a competent local highway authority; to the city’s economy; and to the ability of local bus operators in the area to achieve the reliability required of them by their customers and by the Traffic Commissioners.”

Nationally, bus lanes and other pro-bus measures are supported across the political spectrum and by respected transport planning experts as ways of enhancing urban transport and local connectivity and reducing emissions.  This includes ‘Merseytravel’, the local Passenger Transport Executive, whose press statement accepted that the trial may identify issues with some bus lanes in Liverpool, but states: “Merseytravel continues to support the principle of bus lanes; they can help improve journey times and the reliability of buses and can make the bus network more attractive”.

This view is also reinforced by others.  The Parliamentary Transport Select Committee in its 2011 Report “Out of the Jam: Reducing congestion on our roads” and the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds in its 2012 Report, “Buses and Economic Growth”, both endorse the role of the bus and pro-bus measures to help people access jobs, education, training and leisure.

Furthermore, bus services in Liverpool are rated highly by local users in independent surveys.  Arguably, the additional congestion that the city’s Mayor attributes to bus lanes may actually be due to successful investment including Liverpool One and growth in the city, construction of which has led to road closures and diversions.

The Institute’s submission to Liverpool City Council’s consultation can be downloaded here

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