MOTORISTS carrying passengers and delivery drivers could be able to use bus lanes on Sheffield streets as part of a trial scheme.
Sheffield Council is investigating the feasibility of the changes - which could be implemented by the autumn.
The scheme would be launched on a ‘trial basis’ and involve several main commuter routes with bus lanes.
Specific routes have not yet been confirmed but they could include busy A roads such as Abbeydale Road, Chesterfield Road, Ecclesall Road and Savile Street.
Sheffield Council cabinet member for environment and transport Coun Leigh Bramall said: “With the start of work on the £2 billion highways upgrade from August, we recognise that increased levels of congestion will be very likely over the next few years.
“We want to improve conditions for motorists and also be business-friendly.”
Coun Bramall said the council is looking into whether to have separate trials of allowing ‘shared occupancy’ cars and business vehicles into bus lanes on different routes, whether to allow both together, or to have a trial involving one of the two types of vehicles.
He said: “We have received £80,000 of local transport funding to investigate the feasibility of the different options for expanding the amount of vehicles using bus lanes, and the trial could begin in the autumn.
“Allowing cars with two occupants or more into bus lanes is something which goes on in other cities and would encourage car sharing with family or friends, which is good for the city’s environment. We also want to minimise the impact of congestion on businesses.
“We are currently assessing possible roads which would be suitable for the trial, which would have to be major commuter routes.”
Coun Bramall said the council has consulted with bus companies, who were ‘cautious’ about the proposals, and the city’s Motorists’ Forum, whose members were more enthusiastic.
“Motorists’ Forum members say they are concerned about the effect of congestion, particularly on delivery drivers. There is spare capacity on bus lanes which could be utilised to benefit commuters,” Coun Bramall said.
But he said enforcement would be ‘necessary’ to ensure the scheme worked properly. Bus lanes opened up for shared occupancy cars and delivery vehicles would be monitored by a new portable bus lane camera which is being bought by the council.