A coalition of bus passenger and environmental campaign groups in Birmingham today criticised Birmingham City Council's decision to continue with the suspension of the Tyburn Road (A38) bus lanes.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth, Transport 2000 West Midlands and Bus Users UK have been central to the campaign to re-instate the bus priority lanes since they were suspended in the summer of 2004 to allow for the expected increase in traffic owing to roadworks on the nearby motorway network. In April 2005, the City Council was presented with a petition organised by the coalition and signed by 2000 number 67 bus passengers calling for the suspension of bus lanes on the Tyburn Road to be lifted.[1]

Phil Tonks, Assistant Officer (England) for Bus Users UK said,

"We are seeing a continuation of backward thinking from the City Council. Suspension of bus priority is the complete antithesis of a modern transport system that Birmingham so sorely needs. So much for partnership working: the City Council didn't even inform Travel West Midlands of their decision."

Martin Stride of Birmingham Friends of the Earth commented,

"We are dismayed at the Council's decision to suspend the bus lanes for another 6 months. Bus priority measures such as these are essential to entice people out of their cars and onto public transport. Removing such incentives to use public transport means that Birmingham will continue to suffer from chronic traffic congestion resulting in poorer air quality for everyone, and increasing emissions of the greenhouse gases causing climate change."

Kevin Chapman of Transport 2000 West Midlands said,

"The City Council are not listening to the users of buses on the Tyburn Road who are suffering delays in getting to work in the mornings and getting home at night. We need to look long and hard at how many cars are entering the City Centre every morning and understand the effects traffic congestion has on the people of Birmingham, as well as the cost to business. Continued suspension of the Tyburn Road bus lanes sends completely the wrong message to residents and visitors to the City".

The three organisations called for more bus priority in Birmingham and a closer working relationship between the major players, Centro and Travel West Midlands. At present, progress on tackling traffic congestion in the City in a state of flux. The UK's first "Statutory Bus Quality Partnership" was to have been set up on Route 67, to provide real improvements to users of the service, but this appears to have stalled with no prospect of it being finally implemented.

Editor's Notes

[1] The petition was presented to Birmingham City Council on 5th April 2005 by Cllr. Kath Hartley, a member of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority. See Birmingham FoE's press release 'Bring back our bus lanes!' (22nd March 2005).