Bus Lane Schemes -frequently asked questions

Why is the council creating more bus lanes?

The council is committed to promoting the use of public transport among residents and visitors and creating realistic and attractive alternatives to the private car. Reading is a successful, busy town with lots of competing demands on limited road space. This causes congestion and poor air quality in parts of the town, which impacts on the health and well-being of residents. The creation of more bus lanes will help to provide faster and more frequent bus services, encouraging more people to use them.  This also tallies with the ambitions outlined in our new Local Transport Plan, Climate Emergency Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan.

Doesn’t removing a lane of traffic increase congestion, which creates poorer air quality?

We acknowledge that there are likely to be areas where congestion may increase in the short-term, but this assumption is based on current travel patterns. We are investing £26 million on a range of schemes to make bus travel an even more attractive option – including cheaper fares and simpler ticketing. Together with a recent increase in bus passenger figures in Reading, and the numbers forecast to continue to grow, we anticipate the changes will result in longer term improvements to traffic flows, less congestion and improved air quality.  Without making changes to transport infrastructure and providing suitable and sustainable transport alternatives – including better public transport and more walking and cycling facilities – car usage will continue to grow, generating greater levels of congestion and poorer health outcomes for residents.

What are you doing to prevent rat running along residential streets in east Reading, which is also a safety issue?

We intend to monitor traffic on the adjoining residential streets and, if necessary, review what measures could be introduced to mitigate any displacement, with particular emphasis on safety on these residential streets. This work has been recommended as a result of the traffic modelling undertaken during the bus lane design. If we can further increase bus passenger numbers, we anticipate in the long term this will reduce the number of private cars using both main roads and residential streets.

Are you putting more money into park and ride services from the east of the borough so they run more regularly?

The council is pleased to see limited services recently reinstated from Winnersh Triangle Park & Ride, as well as the ongoing Hospital Park & Ride services running from Thames Valley Business Park.  The bus lane improvements to London Road will support the efficiency and reliability of these services, which should support the future growth of these and other bus services from east of Reading.

We would welcome, and intend to pursue, discussions with bus operators and Wokingham Borough Council to identify what measures can be introduced to make commercially sustainable services possible from these sites and, in particular, providing additional services between Thames Valley Park and Reading.

Why carry out a public consultation which shows the majority are against the two London Road bus lanes if you are going to go ahead anyway?

Public consultation is one element of the wider consultation and decision process. We have undertaken significant other consultations and engagement which shows there is support for measures that address the important transport issues facing Reading. These include both the consultation undertaken on our new Reading Transport Strategy 2040 and our Bus Service Improvement Plan where a large proportion of people said they wanted better and more frequent bus services, cleaner air and less congestion.  

Through our engagement on the Climate Emergency Strategy we know that residents and visitors to Reading are concerned over climate change and want more policies and schemes that promote sustainable transport. Through our work on our Air Quality Action Plan and through the Cleaner Air and Safer Transport Forum we know that people are also concerned about poor air quality issues and want to see measures that address this.

The council is also responding to comments made in the recent public consultation in relation to the use of bus lanes by motorcycles, by making an experimental order for each of the bus lanes which permit their use by motorcycles.

What are the timescales for constructing the six bus lanes and will there be disruption during construction?

The six bus lanes are funded through the council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan programme which needs to be spent by March 2025.  Construction therefore will need to start during this period. With any construction programme on the highway there is inevitably some disruption, but we will manage the works to ensure these are kept to a minimum. We will also work with colleagues to understand other programmed works on the network to ensure that, where possible, these works do not clash with any others.

Can the council afford to build all six bus lanes?

The council was awarded £15.9m in capital funding through its Bus Service Improvement Plan in 2021, however, since that time inflationary pressures have had a significant impact on the cost of individual schemes.

The council is committed to delivering all six bus lanes, however, it has proposed a delay to the Bath Road bus lane until such time as the actual costs of the remaining schemes have been confirmed.  The council will continue to review cost pressures and discuss any funding issues with colleagues at the Department for Transport. 

What else is the council doing to improve air quality in Reading?

The council is working on a number of other initiatives and schemes to improve air quality in Reading. A consultation is currently underway on the council’s new Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) which sets out how the council intends to improve air quality in Reading over the next five years. This replaces the previous plan that ran from 2016 and the new plan includes the introduction of a borough-wide Smoke Control Area, providing guidance for construction sites and projects, continued implementation of electric vehicle infrastructure, and a number of public awareness programmes.

We have also produced a new Reading Transport Strategy 2040 which promotes sustainable, public transport and active travel in place of private vehicle use. A key objective of our transport strategy is to create a clean and green Reading by providing transport options that enhance quality of life, reduce emissions and improve air quality to create a carbon neutral town.

You can view our transport strategy in more detail.

Last updated on 05/06/2024