Sometimes it’s a fine line between being bold and foolhardy, and when what rests on the outcome is a city’s transport network let’s hope that today we report a decision in the former, not the latter, category.
Portsmouth’s council leader Donna Jones has decided to order the removal of the bus lane at the foot of the M275, between Havisham Street and Church Street. This flies in the face of what council officers recommended – in a long and detailed report that analysed delays and also risks to the council if the lane were to be removed – and also what her own transport councillor Ken Ellcome, a man with considerable professional traffic experience as a police officer and council official, decided a fortnight ago.
Firstly, let us say that no doubt most people – as indeed does this newspaper – share Cllr Jones’ objectives. We all want to minimise the number and length of traffic queues in Portsmouth, for the benefit of those who live here and those whom we want to encourage to visit.
While we have some qualms over the decision, we cannot pretend to be able to see into the future and predict what the knock-on effects of chopping out part of the park and ride route – which was a continuous run from the new terminus in Tipner into the city centre – will be. We have previously argued against shortening it, but if this change proves to not affect the length of bus journeys or the number of passengers using the park and ride then we will not hesitate to praise the move.
However, this is the nub of the question. A review has been promised for six months’ time, and we hope it will be thorough, examining and comparing motorists’ journey times, car numbers, and bus journey times.
If this move is found to have had a damaging effect, we would hope to see the original layout reinstated.
We would not like to see another decision riding roughshod over professional advice. Because that really would be when a bold and dynamic decision becomes the epitome of foolhardiness.