Public transport campaigners and bus passengers will be presenting a Birmingham Councillor with a giant bus ticket proclaiming that 'bus lanes are just the ticket' along with a 2000-plus name petition asking the City Council to bring back the bus lanes on the Tyburn Road. They will also be brandishing placards to reinforce the message.

Campaigners will be presenting the petition to Councillor Kath Hartley (Lab Ladywood), who sits on the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority. She will formally present the petition [1] on behalf of bus passengers and public transport campaigners to the next full council meeting on 5th April.

People who use the 67 bus are tired of waiting for late buses delayed by all the other traffic clogging up the bus lane on the Tyburn Road [2]. For them, bringing back the bus lane will be just the ticket!

Transport 2000 West Midlands, Bus Users UK and Birmingham Friends of the Earth launched the campaign to reinstate the bus lane after Councillor Len Gregory, the City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transportation, extended the temporary suspension of the bus lanes along the Tyburn Road, and considered making this a permanent arrangement. [3]

Martin Stride of Birmingham friends of the Earth said:

"The message from route 67 bus passengers has been overwhelming: they want their bus lanes back now. They are fed up with having their buses held up by all the other traffic hogging the bus lanes. The City Council must listen to the demands of bus passengers and reinstate the Tyburn Road bus lanes."

"Properly enforced bus lanes are key to encouraging more people to take the bus and leave their cars at home, reducing congestion and pollution. Bus lanes will help the city breathe more easily and help us cut our greenhouse gas emissions. Rolling out more bus priority schemes within existing road space and giving buses priority at junctions should be a priority for the Council."

Mr Stride went on to say:

"We are worried that the Council is now considering opening up the bus lane to HGVs or cars carrying two or more people which would make the lanes impossible to police and would not help in reducing congestion. Allowing HGV's to use bus lanes would also pose health and safety problems and could lead to even more heavy lorries using the Tyburn Road. Not surprisingly, elsewhere in the UK, very few local authorities have allowed their bus lanes to be used in this way." [4]

Phil Tonks of Bus Users UK commented:

"It is essential that Birmingham has real vision when looking to tackle the traffic congestion that is blighting our City. State of the art attractive bendi-buses – like those being used on the Tyburn Road – are proven to attract more passengers. But this has to be part of a whole package which includes potential and existing users having the confidence that their bus is on time. Passengers have told us that the service is not as reliable as when the bus lanes were operating. Bus lanes and bus priority are essential, but Birmingham City Council's backward looking policies are threatening to destroy the good progress being made."

Kevin Chapman of Transport 2000 West Midlands pointed out the people who had benefited most from the bus lane had been those who lived close to the route:

"It has opened up new horizons and job opportunities for people in Castle Vale and Erdington. They deserve a high quality bus service. Negotiations had been underway between the operators, the police and the council to make route 67 the subject of a Statutory Quality Bus Partnership – the first in the country and a beacon for other authorities. Since the bus lane has been suspended though, the discussions have reached an impasse. The Government is now taking the issue so seriously that millions of pounds of transport investment across the West Midlands conurbation could be placed in jeopardy."

Stephen Joseph, director of Transport 2000, added:

"Birmingham City Council is paying lip service to improving public transport, but by allowing lots of other vehicles into bus lanes they will be making public transport less attractive and encouraging more people to use cars. But this is not just about transport, its about Birmingham's economy. While London's congestion is improving, Birmingham's is worsening. Decisions like this will make Birmingham the congestion capital of the UK, alienating business and investment."

The contentious issue of bus lanes would undoubtedly be raised and discussed at Birmingham City Council's Transport Summit later in the day [5].

Editor’s Notes

1. The petition has been conducted by Birmingham Friends of the Earth, Transport 2000 and Bus Users UK on the 67 bus since last December.

2. Since suspension of the bus lanes on Tyburn Road, delays to buses have increased by 11 per cent. This has probably been the main cause of a drop of 15% in passengers in the morning and evening peaks compared to the same time last year (Birmingham Post 17th November 2004).

3. The bus lanes on the Tyburn Road were suspended last August as a temporary measure whilst road works were taking place on a stretch of the M6 and Aston Expressway. Councillor Len Gregory Cabinet member for Transport and Street Services, Birmingham City Council extended the suspension last August.

4. The Highways Agency has serious reservations about the benefits and operational safety of dedicated HGV lanes; there is little hard evidence to suggest that they work (House of Commons Transport Select Committee, 26th March 2003).

5. Birmingham City Council's Transport Summit is to be held at the Burlington Hotel in Birmingham City Centre. which will be kicked off by Councillor Len Gregory at 09:30am.

6. For more information visit (Transport 2000), (Bus Users UK, formally the National Federation of Bus Users), (Birmingham Friends of the Earth).