THE controversial A4 bus lanes will operate at peak times only as Slough Council makes a number of big changes.
This means motorists will be banned from entering the lanes between 7am – 10am and 3pm – 7pm, Monday to Friday, as opposed to being active 24/7.
Cabinet councillors approved the changes on November 16 (Monday), with the new order starting on December 4.
As major changes have been made to the bus lanes – which go to and from Huntercombe roundabout and the Sainsbury’s roundabout – the experimental order will now reset for a further six months for new feedback and objections to be gathered.
The existing petition and objections raised on the previous order will still be considered by council officers.
Councillor Robert Anderson (Lab, Britwell and Northborough), lead member for transport and environmental services, said: “A number of people who wrote to me were generally complaining about the off peak period, it was the times when they found it to be busy when they didn’t expect it.
“At peak time, the road is busy anyway. So, if you’re stuck at the peak time, then that’s going to be the same if whether you’re in a single lane or a double lane.
“So, this should address some of that.”
Cllr Anderson added Slough residents are breathing in “cleaner air” as data collected on the A4 shows the air quality is half the legal limit where July – which was when the bus lanes were introduced – saw the lowest pollution on Bath Road.
A long extraordinary joint overview and scrutiny committee and neighbourhood and community scrutiny panel met on October 29 and recommended a number of other actions to take on the A4 bus lanes.
Following the panel’s and committee’s suggestions, cabinet members decided they will look into allowing private hire vehicles to use the experimental bus lanes as a ‘pilot’.
Savio DeCruz, the council’s service lead for major infrastructure projects, said they are waiting for guidance from the Department for Transport in December on green number plates – which would allow fully electric, zero emission vehicles on the A4 bus lanes.
He also said the council is looking at allowing motorbikes to use the Bath Road bus lanes as well.
The electric bus service trial, which operates along the A4, could be extended for another three months alongside the new experimental order.
The commitee also recommended changing the hourly electric bus service to every half an hour – but the leader of the council, Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green), said the council would face a ‘legal barrage’ if they changed the times as it would be seen to be in direct competition with the existing commercial services.
The A4 bus lanes trial is set to end in February 2022, when the council will decide whether to keep the scheme or not.