Plan for all day bus lanes on Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road in Sheffield to drive commuters out of cars
Buses are set to sail past congestion on two major roads in Sheffield under new plans to downgrade driving and get commuters out of their cars.
Bus lanes could operate from 7am to 7pm on Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road and be enforced by strict London-style ‘Red Routes’ which ban all other vehicles from stopping, waiting or loading.
Traffic lights could be reprogrammed to turn green when a bus approaches for up to five miles from the city centre to the suburbs.
The proposals are part of the £55m Connecting Sheffield scheme which aims to encourage people to switch to walking, cycling or public transport, ‘particularly when commuting to work’ to combat climate change and improve health.
Both roads suffer badly with congestion at rush hour. Outside of these times cars can park in bus lanes.
WHAT DO BUS BOSSES THINK?
Nigel Eggleton, managing director at First South Yorkshire, has previously called for schemes that ‘discriminate against the private car’ as the best way to boost bus use. He welcomed the plans.
He said: "Reliability is key in encouraging people to use bus services, as it can provide confidence and reassurance knowing that buses will get people to their destinations on time.
"Bus priority, red routes and parking restrictions for vehicles ‘excluding buses’ can make a significant improvement to reliability and make bus services an attractive proposition for people to use, and at the same time help improve air quality and the local environment as less cars will be on the road.”
Councillor Douglas Johnson, executive member for climate change, environment and transport at Sheffield City Council, said faster, more reliable buses would encourage commuters to leave cars at home.
He added: “We know it is difficult for people to use public transport because buses don’t get priority - they need faster routes to make sure they are consistently reliable.
“Public transport is a critical part of our future, we will need people to catch the bus to take cars off the road. I know it’s been said, but it’s so important I will say it again; we need to make it easier to travel by public transport so people can choose to leave the car at home. This will help reduce traffic congestion, improve the air we breathe, and make us a healthier city.”
John Young, commercial director at Stagecoach Yorkshire, said bus journey time improvements were among customers’ top priorities.
So far, five schemes have been consulted on over the past year. Abbeydale Road and Ecclesall Road are the final set of proposals.
Improvements to bus stops are in the plans, including better seating and real-time updates.
WHEN COULD THE ALL DAY BUS LANES START AND FINISH?
New 12-hour bus lanes could operate from 7am to 7pm during the week - and some restrictions could be extended to the weekend, based on feedback.
Officials are also undertaking surveys to judge the impact on parking.
Green light priority for buses would apply at 20 traffic lights in the five miles from the bottom of The Moor up Ecclesall Road to Abbey Lane, and 3.7 miles along Abbeydale Road to Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet in Beauchief.
Charity worker Cat Rhone, who lives in Greystones, said she was all for the scheme.
She added: “Everyone agrees the congestion on Ecclesall Road puts people off from coming. People would use public transport if it was better.”
BUSINESS NEWS: Mayor receives more than £180,000
But Chris Lawrance, of Design Studio, said it would be ‘devastating’ and customers would be ‘taken past’ on the bus.
Side streets were ‘saturated’ with residents’ cars already, so customers in cars would have nowhere to park, he added.
Bus user Peter Courtenay said: “It’s going to cause chaos and the shops aren’t going to like it. But Ecclesall Road needs two lanes running.”
Karen Grady, of Lobby Toff hair salon, said: “It’ll be devastating. Our customers don’t come on the bus. They come from Hillsborough, Stannington, Hope and Hathersage. We are bringing business into Sheffield.”
Bus user Catherine Knowles said: “If we’re asking people to give up their cars, we need better buses.”
BUSINESS NEWS: Former B&Q site set for £11m regeneration
And bus user Eric Bates thought it was a good idea too.
But he added: “This road is always busy, especially when you have got cars parking on it. But this is not going to do businesses any good. For the volume of traffic it’s nowhere near wide enough.
“On odd days it’s okay but the majority of the time it’s a case of ‘will the bus come?’”
Cyclist Philippa Rose said: “Careful consideration also needs to be given to these plans so that an increase in bus traffic and speed doesn't discourage cycling.”
And Joanna Hall responded: “Great! That’s Psalter Lane gridlocked forever and ever then unless somethings done about it in the plans, which doesnt seem the case.”
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN AT HUNTERS BAR?
At Hunters Bar Roundabout, the outbound bus lane just after the roundabout would be removed to improve traffic flow, as would the bus stop.
The inbound bus stop in front of Hallamshire Tennis and Squash Club, would be moved closer to the entrance to Endcliffe Park off Rustlings Road. It would have a new layby for buses out of the traffic.
Meanwhile, on Abbeydale Road, ‘inbound’ bus lanes could be removed to improve flow, including between Knaresborough Road and Springfield Road and between Sherwood Glen and Abbey Lane.
BUSINESS NEWS: Rapid changes on one of Sheffield’s most historic streets
The plan follows COP26, the Department for Transport’s National Bus Strategy: Bus Back Better and the submission of the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, all of which commit to making public transport better and more accessible.
The proposals are funded through the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund. The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority was awarded £166m, with £55m going to Sheffield for active travel and public transport improvements across the city.
Consultation runs on these ‘initial ideas’ until Thursday December 16. A formal consultation will follow next year.