Lights boost to bus times

Roadworks causing chaos for buses in Blackpool Town Centre.

Roadworks causing chaos for buses in Blackpool Town Centre.

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BUSES could be given priority at traffic lights in a bid to help them run on time.

But it has been revealed there is not enough cash to create more bus lanes in Blackpool.

Tackling congestion, repairing roads and encouraging people to be more environmentally-friendly in their travel choices are some of the main points raised in the town’s four-year transport policy due to go before resort councillors on Wednesday.

Figures from the last census in 2001 showed more than a third of households in the resort do not have access to a car – meaning many residents rely on buses and public transport.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for transport at Blackpool Council, said improving public transport was a priority.

Congestion

He added: “It is something we are very concerned about. One of the pledges of the Labour Party before the elections was to improve the bus service and endeavour to reduce congestion in the town.

“It is difficult because if you are doing roadworks it does cause congestion, but the timing of bus services is something we want to try to improve for residents.

“We do have very low car ownership in Blackpool, although that might surprise people who see streets packed with parked cars.

“But that’s why public transport is so important.

“When the tram system is up and running next Easter with a regular 10-minute service, I’m hoping people will travel from the north and south into Blackpool on the new tramway and it will be very reliable and very comfortable.”

A report to councillors says: “It is intended a bus priority system be established at traffic lights for late running buses to recover to their timetable.”

The system would be made possible using traffic management technology being introduced as part of the private finance initiative (PFI) which is seeing street lighting and road signals replaced across Blackpool.

Traffic lights on bus routes would be set up to stay on green for longer when buses were running behind schedule.

In the past Blackpool Transport has blamed roadworks for delaying services and says its revenue has been hit due to traffic congestion.

The company welcomed the chance to work with the council.

Managing director Trevor Roberts said: “We are keen on the possibility of having some priority system at traffic lights where there have been historical delays and working in partnership with the council to make a real improvement in bus service reliability.

“While we all know finances are tight at the moment, anything that can make bus services more reliable is to be welcomed.

“Of course we would like more bus only lanes but we realise there needs to be a balanced approach across the available road space and the whole traffic management structure.

“However if we can minimise the delays at critical junctions that would indeed save us valuable time.”