A COMPROMISE has been reached in the bid to try to combat congestion on roads into Portsmouth city centre.
The bus lane at the bottom of Mile End Road will be trimmed back to allow all traffic to flow better – a move being billed as a ‘half-way house’ solution.
It comes despite council leader Donna Jones having wanted the whole bus route removed between Havisham Road and Church Street – introduced when the park and ride opened last year – following a backlash from motorists.
Portsmouth’s Tory traffic boss Ken Ellcome, who made the decision not to axe all the bus lane at a meeting yesterday, said the needs of public transport users had to be met and the ‘integrity’ of park and ride needed protecting.
When approached by The News afterwards, Cllr Jones said she will review the decision her colleague made and was unaware he would go against the original plan.
Yet First Bus and cycle campaigners warned radical action against the bus route would be a ‘backward step’.
‘This is a half-way house solution, because there is a need to take all people’s views into account,’ Cllr Ellcome said.
‘There is a problem with the traffic that wants to turn left into Church Street. I don’t think the lane where people can turn is long enough.
‘I am not recommending we go the whole hog as was the original proposal.’
Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: ‘The congestion on Mile End Road is not caused by the bus lane, it is caused by the increasing number of vehicles using the road.
‘In 2009, there were around 30,000 vehicle movements per day in this area, whereas in 2013 there were around 55,000.’
He added: ‘Portsmouth City Council should regard this bus lane as the foundation stone on which to build up sustainable alternatives to private motor vehicles, not as an impediment to the free flow of private vehicles.’
Dervla McKay, First Bus general manager, warned the original plan would have ‘undone’ a lot of good work getting people to swap cars for alternative transport.
‘We really don’t want to see the park-and-ride scheme fail,’ she said.
‘We are the operator, but we also believe in the scheme and have seen the way it has become a success.’
Traffic council officers recommended the bus lane be kept as it is as removing it would encourage more car use at a time when roads are already nearing capacity. But Cllr Jones said: ‘While I respect Cllr Ellcome’s decision regarding the bus lane, it doesn’t achieve what was desired to ease traffic flow. Therefore, I will be reviewing the decision within the next 14 days.’