KEEPING ‘bonkers’ A4 bus lanes could cost nearly £100,000 – but will cost even more to remove it.
It’s been well over a year since the bus lanes and cycle lanes have been laid down between Dover Road and Uxbridge Road, leaving many motorists angry during peak times.
Slough Borough Council was granted funds from the government’s active travel fund to implement the experimental order to allow social distancing measures and to encourage more people to cycle or take the bus.
The lanes originally operated 24 hours but after pushback from a petition, which garnered nearly 5,300 signatures, and feedback from residents, the council changed its operation period to peak times only.
Despite this change, motorists are still unhappy and have called for the council to scrap it entirely, citing traffic has been at a standstill at those times along the A4.
A consultation was launched to gather views on the bus lanes and cycle lanes. A majority of residents slammed the scheme as a “horrible idea,” “bonkers,” and a “waste of money”. They say it has increased their journey time and traffic congestion.
In a report presented to councillors on the place scrutiny panel, it was revealed the council could spend £98,000 to make the scheme permanent.
This cost will come from a government fund and will go towards updating signs to include electric vehicles along the bus lane, adding additional signage, and removing road markings for the cycle lane on the A4 junctions between Cippenham Lane and Dover Road.
However, it was heard at the meeting on Wednesday, December 1, it would cost even more to remove the lanes. The bill for removing the road markings, signs, signposts, and enforcement cameras will mount to nearly £120,000.
Councillor Rob Anderson (Lab: Britwell & Northborough), lead member for environmental services and transport, said the scheme is to encourage a “behavioural change” into people in order to relieve Slough’s roads, which officers have warned will be “unsustainable” in the future.
He said: “What we’re trying to do is to get ahead of the game and make sure we’re putting things in place which allow people to have alternative modes of transport.
“That means you can go by bus, you walk safely, you can cycle, you can use an electric scooter as thousands of people are in Slough.
“It’s about trying to get some of those people out of their cars to free up the road space, so people who have to use their cars can do it without sitting in traffic jams.
“So, what we go to do is actually try and get to a position where we’re providing it for people to do.”
Officers found the bus lanes have contributed to an increase in journey time for motorists by nearly three minutes but believe this is not “significant” to warrant removing the bus lanes.
Air quality along the A4 has also improved, but officers cannot say for definite if it is because of the bus lanes.
They have, therefore, recommended to cabinet, who will make the final decision on the A4 bus lanes on December 20, to keep the scheme.