York street may be widened to cut delays on key bus routes

Clarence Street in York may be widened as steps are taken to tackle congestion and try to get more people to use buses in the city centre.

Proposals will also ask for a possible new bus lane, bus gate and bus signals to be considered after the end of the controversial Lendal Bridge trial period, if required.

However council bosses said that journey time reductions for buses using Clarence Street during the trial indicate that a separate bus lane may not be necessary if traffic continues to be restricted.

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The proposed improvements to the key city centre bus route will go before a decision session of York Council next Thursday, with officers proposing a consultation is held on measures to improve the road and bus services
between York city centre and the hospital.

If agreed, it is proposed that businesses and residents will be asked their views on improvements to Clarence Street.

Officers are recommending that Clarence Street should be widened, particularly near the junction with Lord Mayor’s Walk.

The scheme will be funded by £250,000, supported through part of the £3.5m Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF) awarded to the council from the Department of Transport in 2012.

If approved, the improvements will help three of York’s five most frequent bus services – routes 1, 5 and 6 – which all use Clarence Street and experience delays.

A current six-month trial, which began at the end of August last year, which bans lorries, cars and motorbikes from using the route during daytime hours and which could leave drivers with a £60 fine if they flout the rules, has proved controversial with businesses claiming it is harming trade.

However, those in favour say it will ease congestion and yesterday bosses at York Council claimed data gathered during the six-month Lendal Bridge trial so far indicates that delays have been significantly reduced between 10.30am and 5pm.

The authority announced a fines amnesty for the first week of the trial, after around 1,000 drivers breached the restrictions. More warning signs were installed after motorists complained about being caught unawares.

Coun Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for transport, planning and sustainability, said yesterday: “Our aim is to encourage even more people to travel by bus and increase passenger numbers by 18 per cent by 2015.”