Lancashire County Council is proposing to boost bus journeys through Lancaster by introducing a bus-only lane over Greyhound Bridge when it reopens.
Traffic modelling suggests the measure would have little impact on existing traffic while helping to make bus journeys quicker and more reliable.
The bus lane would take up one of the two lanes which were previously used for northbound traffic, meaning there would still be one lane in each direction for all traffic, as well as a northbound bus lane.
It would run from the bus stop on Cable Street south of the river and across Greyhound Bridge, before merging with general traffic again north of the river on Morecambe Road.
Improving public transport in Lancaster is a key component of long-term plans to transform how traffic is managed in the city centre and ensure that people and goods can continue to travel efficiently as the area grows in future.
Establishing a bus lane over the Greyhound Bridge has been identified as a measure which could be put in place quickly and at minimal cost to immediately reduce journey times and improve reliability for the more than 20 buses an hour which would use the lane.
The bus lane would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and be for use by buses and cyclists only.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet agreed to commit funding to take the proposal forward when they met on Thursday August 9. Consultation on the scheme will now follow, with details to be announced in due course.
County Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Modelling work suggests that introducing a bus lane over the Greyhound Bridge could be expected to have minimal impact on traffic while improving journeys for bus passengers.
“The current closure of the Greyhound Bridge for refurbishment provides an ideal opportunity to introduce a bus lane as the cost of doing the work, and disruption to traffic, would be less while the bridge is closed, and drivers could more easily adapt to the changes as part of the bridge being reopened.
“There is much to do in future to improve the way traffic is managed in Lancaster city centre as outlined in our published Highways and Transport Masterplan for the area, however we think this would be a real improvement that we can bring in quickly.”
Cameras would be introduced to enforce both the new northbound bus lane and the existing southbound bus lane on Morecambe Road.
The current bus lane on Parliament Street with access for taxis between 10pm and 6am is proposed to be changed to allow 24-hour access for buses, cycles and taxis only.
Buses could travel more quickly as they would no longer have to merge into general traffic when leaving the bus stop on Cable Street, instead simply continuing along the bus lane.
At the end of the bus lane, general traffic in the right hand lane would be directed to merge in with buses so that, when traffic is queued up, buses would have priority and be able to progress further along the queue.
Initial informal consultation with Lancaster City Council, Lancaster University and Stagecoach has indicated support for the proposal.
Greyhound Bridge over the River Lune is currently closed for refurbishment and is due to reopen in winter 2018.