Controversial ‘bus gates’ cause traffic chaos
Huddersfield’s new scheme sees motorists flouting the rules
Huddersfield town centre has activated new ‘bus gates’, much to the dismay of motorists.
Many drivers have already been fined and taxis have arrived late in the town centre.
The controversial scheme which aims to prevent vehicles from driving around key routes in town launched this week, causing ‘chaos’ on the roads.
Only buses and Hackney Carriage taxis are allowed to pass through the gates located at Westgate, Railway Street, Kirkgate, Market Street and High Street when they are activated.
Any unauthorised vehicles passing through the bus gates will receive a hefty £60 penalty charge, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
The operating times of the bus gates are shown on new signs at each location, with additional signs on the approach showing a route that drivers can take to avoid the enforcement cameras.
Cllr Peter McBride said: “The work follows consultation with town centre users including businesses, residents, shoppers and students who generally said they wanted Huddersfield to be an accessible town where people could get around easily and safely.
“In areas like Leeds and Bradford, bus gate and bus lanes are already in place and have been enforced using cameras for a number of years. Their purpose is to ensure the free flow of traffic where historically traffic congestion has been a recognised problem, particularly where that has had an impact on public transport.
“These initiatives speed up bus journey times and reliability, and create a better environment in the town centre where people can get about more easily and safely.”
A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said: “Nationally the majority of enforcing councils do not allow private hire vehicles to pass through bus lanes/gates.
“This is partly because national legislation states that only vehicles available for public hire - such as buses and Hackney Carriages - are allowed to use bus lanes, not private hire vehicles.
“In addition, Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles operate in different ways: Hackney Carriages can pick up from taxi ranks and be flagged down in the street, this means they do not know where their customers want to go until they get into the cab, and this destination could be within an area covered by a bus gate or bus lane.
“Private hire vehicles are only legally available if pre-booked, and cannot be flagged down in the street. This enables them to plan their journeys in advance and avoid any streets where access is restricted.
“Another reason is that Hackney Carriages which have a lit ‘taxi’ sign on the roof making them easily identifiable.
“However, private hire vehicles look like regular vehicles, especially in the dark. If private hire vehicles were allowed through the bus gates it could lead to confusion for members of the public who may think they can follow them through.
“In addition, as a member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), the council needs to be consistent in its approach to driving enforcement activities and mirror exemptions already in place across the WYCA.”
Bus gates will be active from 8am to 6pm. On High Street, near Huddersfield Town Hall, they will operate from 10am to 4pm.