TOP PRIORITY: Bus measures for three busy routes
New speed restrictions are going to be introduced on the Great North road, Image: NCJ Media
Buses are set to be given top priority on three of Tyneside’s busiest roads, in a bid to cut pollution by getting more people onto public transport.
Newcastle City Council has confirmed that it is preparing plans to give a boost to bus services on the Coast Road, the Great North Road, and West Road.
A leading city councillor teased earlier this week that the three routes could be set for big changes and, while exact details of the schemes and how they would impact other road users are yet to be revealed, civic centre transport officials have now confirmed that the projects will be designed to improve bus journeys.
A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “As part of our commitment to clean up our air and create a greener city, we are developing a number of proposals to improve public transport across Newcastle.
“This includes bidding for funding for bus priority measures through the Transforming Cities Fund which includes measures on a number of key corridors such as the Coast Road, along with other initiatives.
“Good quality public transport networks are integral to our plans and we will continue to work with other councils in the region to develop a bus service improvement plan and secure investment in public transport, not only to protect bus services, but to also ensure that we have good quality alternatives to car use to help us meet our Net Zero ambitions.”
Under plans to halve the number of general traffic lanes on the Tyne Bridge, the council had planned to leave the outside lanes open to buses only as part of efforts to deter car journeys.
However, those plans have now been abandoned after it was decided that the measures would cause frustrated drivers to divert to other routes into the city centre instead and cause congestion elsewhere.
The plans for the Coast Road, the Great North Road, and West Road were first mentioned by Coun Clare Penny-Evans, the city council’s cabinet member for climate change, on Monday night.
It came as the authority’s cabinet discussed plans to a new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) that will impose daily tolls on high-polluting vehicles driving into the city centre from next July.
Some lorries, buses, and coaches that do not comply with emissions standards will face charges of £50 every day, while the most polluting vans and taxis will be charged £12.50 per day.
There have been fears that including buses in the toll scheme, while leaving all private cars exempt, could push operators to increase ticket prices.
Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter
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