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Letter: Bus Lane Madness Deprives Us of 30% of Road Space

Published on: 12 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 12 Sep, 2021

From: Jim Allen

See also: Poorly Located Bus Lanes Add to Congestion

Our bus lane madness continues while we wonder why there is congestion on the gyratory and other busy Guildford roads. A 30% loss of road space for what?

I have taken some photos to illustrate my point.

The first four show buses ignoring the bus lane on Onslow street and using the two often congested lanes, open to all traffic.

The next two show the poor use of the bus lane on Woodbridge Road.
And this final one, the deserted bus lane on the Woking Road as it approaches the busy Stoke Interchange.

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test 17 Responses to Letter: Bus Lane Madness Deprives Us of 30% of Road Space

  1. Robert Burch Reply

    September 12, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    All these photos show the roads when they are quiet, so the bus can go where is chooses. The point of the bus lane is that when there is congestion, the buses can still move to encourage people to use them. Also, for those who cannot afford a car, by taking the bus they may be able to get where they need to go more quickly than those who are wealthy enough to have a car; at least some consolation.

    If this is “madness”, perhaps ask Surrey Highways to explain why the design is done this way, which may answer the question in the original article?

    • Jim Allen Reply

      September 13, 2021 at 12:21 pm

      It is a basic principle, as with cycle lanes, use them or lose them. Stop taking road space for fads.

      • Robert Burch Reply

        September 16, 2021 at 8:42 pm

        I was in London today and had an enjoyable time cycling to and from a conference. There is a lot of cycling infrastructure that was installed in the face of huge opposition but it has encouraged a lot of people to cycle, freeing up public transport.

        It has changed enormously since I last lived there in 2004. Cars are prevented from using certain roads in the City and the situation is all the better for it. Bus and bike lanes are not “fads” and can be part of a positive shift in the way we live. But it needs bold decision making and a willingness not to listen to those who seek to complain at change.

  2. Steven Salmon Reply

    September 13, 2021 at 9:04 am

    The bus lane behind The Friary Centre would be more effective if it went right up to the lights outside Wetherspoons and buses had an advance phase so that they could go straight on or right. But that would really take out some car capacity.

  3. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 13, 2021 at 9:06 am

    But the bus lane past The Friary is now active 24 hours a day, even though the buses do not run at night and there are very few bus routes using this bit of road anyway.

    Complaints about pollution are inevitable when the county council decides on such inefficient use of the roads.

  4. Ross Connell Reply

    September 14, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    The bus lane in Onslow Street into the gyratory should be eliminated. This would allow better traffic progress on this part of the gyratory towards Shalford and Godalming. At present many buses have very few passengers, especially those from the Park & Ride services. So we have congested traffic lanes and almost empty buses.

  5. Richard Kirwin Reply

    September 15, 2021 at 6:02 am

    As Robert Burch comments, the photos show quiet times of the day, so miss the point.

    Steve Salmon makes a valid point on Onslow Street, and I understood that had been the original plan, but it wasn’t executed. It would be academic anyway, as in peak hours the root cause of a lot of the congestion is the pedestrian crossing just before the A31 railway bridge.

    This causes the A31 traffic to back up, blocking the Park Street traffic lights and back round to Onslow Street where the lack of a yellow box at the junction with Bridge Street often means traffic from Bridge Street cannot exit to the A281/A3100, thus locking up a complete ring of traffic.

    Naturally, this also backs up Onslow Street up to York Road and Woodbridge Road – on a “good” day all the way to Ladymead.

    If that pedestrian crossing could be programmed to only go red for only 90-120 seconds at peak times, coupled with a yellow box outside the Friary/Rodborough Buildings, it might help things move along.

    The Woking Road bus lane is only in operation at peak times, but as most motorists don’t read signs they never use it when they could (that said, the bump by the council yard entrance is enough to make you steer clear anyway). And the kink in the kerb by the A3 slip roundabout makes it tight for a car, let alone a bus to creep through if the other lane is full.

  6. Mark Percival Reply

    September 15, 2021 at 6:12 am

    Note the second picture of Woodbridge Road with the white van parked on the pavement and blocking it. Just remind me, how much space do they want to give to motor vehicles?

    I’m fed up with all of our town being given over to cars and the folk that want to drive and “park” everywhere.

    I notice there aren’t many cars on the roads in the photos, this clearly shows there is too much road capacity already and we can convert these roads back to pavement to make our town safer, healthier and a better place to live.

  7. Adam Aaronson Reply

    September 15, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    Isn’t there technology that would enable this and other bus lanes to be mixed use until a bus comes along, at which point electronic signs could divert traffic into the other lane (s), leaving the way clear for buses?

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      September 18, 2021 at 8:57 pm

      Of course there is, but would it be practical in terms of benefits in timing and reduced pollution compared to the capital/maintenance costs of the system?

      It should also be remembered that the majority of bus lane drivers refuse to use them when open, be it 10am – 4pm or 7pm – 7am. Variable use would completely baffle them.

    • Dave Middleton Reply

      September 19, 2021 at 6:23 pm

      A splendid idea but, bearing in mind the number of motorists who cannot comprehend the meaning of a red X above a lane on a motorway and sail under it with gay abandon, I fear it would be doomed to fail.

  8. Michael Nagle Reply

    September 18, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    There are just too many cars. Our road space is maxed out. The other inputs to the system (pedestrians, buses, cyclists etc) are seen as blockers to the “perfect” flow.

  9. A J Ferenczy Reply

    September 19, 2021 at 11:24 am

    As there is zero enforcement of bus lanes (or red lights) in Guildford, cars and other motor vehicles can and do drive in them where and when they like at all times of day – the one in the last picture being a prime example. Deliveroo and other deivery company scooters are some of the worst offenders and most anti-social road users. Consequently, you have to be absolutely mad to cycle in bus lanes in Guildford.

  10. Andrew Calladine Reply

    September 20, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    Incredible that public transport is being blamed for congestion in Guildford. Does anyone making these comments above ever have the self awareness to ask themselves that perhaps the real reason is that far too many people, themselves included, choose to drive for journeys of a mile or less. Even if you took the bus lanes out, all that will happen is that you will have induced demand, more people will drive and the congestion will be as bad, if not worse, than it was before.

    These are the figures for the levels of car registrations in the UK over the last 30 years:

    1991: 20 million
    2007: 27 million
    2016: 37 million
    2020: 38.3 million

    Next year, 2022, is projected to be 40 million.

  11. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    September 22, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Bus lanes no doubt make it easier for buses to run better during peak hours. But all day bus lanes are not justifiable in a town like Guildford.

    The effect of closing one lane to other traffic creates higher numbers using the remaining lane/lanes, so the question is do the benefits of a bus lane outweigh the harmful effects of congestion, accidents, pollution and loss of productivity for those stuck in the jam?

    If traffic flows reasonably well even after reserving a lane for buses, well and good. But there must be a point at which if congestion becomes severe, resulting disbenefit must be considered before continuing with the provision of the bus lane.

  12. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 22, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    So how many more people are there now? How many bus routes have been scrapped? How many buses are there an hour from some outlying villages? Are people actually only travelling a mile or so? I doubt it.

    How many more women are working and need their own car? How many children have been allocated to schools away from their immediate neighbourhood? Anyway, children no longer walk to school as it isn’t safe anymore.

    The excessive bus lanes are causing congestion as many of the cars are actually going through Guildford to get somewhere else using the A246, A3001, A3, A281.

  13. Mark Percival Reply

    September 23, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    “Are people actually only travelling a mile or so? I doubt it.”

    76 per cent of all trips are 2 – 3 miles. Source: National Travel Survey: England 2019

    These very short journeys are a major cause of congestion in our town.

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