Cars are to be stopped from accessing a major road in the heart of Liverpool city centre to allow a “bus gate” to improve the flow of public transport for tens of thousands of passengers every day.
A report to Liverpool City Council’s cabinet tomorrow (Friday, 14 August) is recommending the measure be introduced to help reduce congestion and pollution and improve safety along a key corridor connecting the city’s Knowledge Quarter to the waterfront.
If approved the council will seek to ban all traffic – except buses, taxis, private hire vehicles and bikes – heading westbound into Ranelagh Street and Hanover Street from Lime Street. The measure would be introduced as an Experimental Traffic Order and would be reviewed after 12 months.
According to a survey of traffic the route has been used as a rat-run with a high number of accidents involving pedestrians crossing from Church Street to Bold Street, which has recently been fully pedestrianised to support eateries recovering from the Covid-19 lockdown.
The proposed changes will not affect eastbound traffic as Lime Street is to be remodelled between St John’s Lane and Skelhorne Street as part of the £47 million Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) scheme, which will remove access to traffic.
To ensure that the bus-gate supports current and future bus routes, it is proposed that it be operational between 7am to midnight, every day of the week.
An additional benefit to the change will enable the city region’s Bus Alliance to consider reinstating bus services, such as the 82 service for south Liverpool, and to support the wider LCCC projects, such as the redesign of The Strand.
To facilitate the bus-gate on Ranelagh/Hanover Street, it is proposed the current locations of the Blue-Badge bay (outside the Lyceum on south side) and taxi-rank (on north side) be swapped to allow blue badge holders to park with the flow of traffic and to ensure ease of access into the main retail area of the city.
Prior to the scheme becoming live, a CCTV system will be installed and tested to ensure that it meets the requirements of the Department for Transport (DfT) and Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).
To improve traffic flow and bus punctuality along the route further, the priority at the junction of Hanover Street with Gradwell Street will also be changed to give priority to traffic along Hanover Street.
• For more information on the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme please go to: www.liverpool.gov.uk/betterroads
Councillor Sharon Connor, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The introduction of this bus-gate will be a hugely welcome improvement to how people travel in and around Liverpool city centre – especially bus users, pedestrians and cyclists.
“Hanover and Ranelagh Street are currently used as a ‘rat run’ and that is simply not an acceptable situation especially when we are encouraging people to walk and cycle more and we are committed to improving our air quality as well.
“The benefits of this measure will be considerable in terms of reducing congestion and improving safety in the heart of our city centre and consultation with our bus partners and public and private taxi sectors has been critical to how it has been designed.
“The bus gate is a key part of a much wider package of projects to improve accessibility in the city centre, so it should not be looked at in isolation. It has been designed to complement the changes to The Strand and Lime Street, which are long overdue given how the city centre has transformed over the past three decades, and should also knit nicely with our work to improve access and safety on Bold Street.
“If approved we would hope to introduce the bus gate by the autumn and we will continue to monitor the road to see what difference it is making and if any further changes need to be made.”
Councillor Liam Robinson, Transport Portfolio Holder for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: “Establishing a bus-gate is a really positive move for the city centre and should help to resolve some of the major issues on Hanover Street with congestion.
“It will allow bus services quicker access to the city centre, reaching the places that people want to get to, helping to encourage more people out of their cars and into buses. Additionally, it will make the area safer for pedestrians.
“It should also be helpful in our long-term aims to make use of the devolved powers for bus and making a bus network to benefit the city region as a whole.”