TAXI drivers are angry they cannot use controversial new bus lanes being trialled in Fareham.
One of the bus-only lanes around the town centre opened on Sunday, but cabbies are worried they will increase traffic congestion.
One driver, who asked not to be named, said: ‘It’s a total farce.
‘We’ve got roads that are already filled up – this is going to make things much worse.’
Another added: ‘We’re a public service too.
‘Why can’t we use them? It’s all too much in favour of the buses.’
Part of Portland Street southbound become a bus-only lane on Sunday.
And on April 22, the westbound inside lane of Western Way, and a small section of The Avenue will also become bus-only lanes. They are aimed at speeding up buses using the new rapid transit route through Fareham and Gosport.
Cllr Mel Kendal, who is in charge of transport matters at Hampshire County Council, said the lanes are currently limited to bus use only but added ‘this will be kept under review’.
‘If during the trial period it becomes clear that we can allow licensed hackney carriages to use the bus lanes without detriment to bus operations, then we will certainly look to include this into the trial,’ he said.
‘I must emphasise that this is a trial and the purpose is to monitor the impact on local traffic and the effect on bus use.’
He said the 18-month trial may be shorter if they feel they have gathered enough data sooner.
Paul Webber, chairman of the Fareham Hackney Association, said they had written to Hampshire and Fareham councils as well as the police asking permission to use the lanes.
He said: ‘We represent about two-thirds of the drivers and most of the companies in Fareham.
‘We are waiting for replies to our letters before we can give our definitive response.’