Uncork the Ringway bottleneck by letting drivers use Preston's notorious Fishergate bus lane pleads councillor

County Hall chiefs have been urged to uncork Preston's latest traffic bottleneck by opening up the Fishergate bus lane to help relieve Ringway congestion.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 4:17 pm

Motorists currently face a £60 fine if they drive down the notorious stretch of road on the city's prime shopping street between 11am and 6pm.

But Coun Yousuf Motala, who represents Preston City division on the County Council, has written to Lancashire's top two highways figures asking them to switch the cameras off while the disruption continues.

The £14.7m regeneration of the Ringway/Friargate area is scheduled to go on for up to 14 months, meaning long queues in and out of the city centre could be a regular sight until March 2023.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Unlocking the Fishergate bus lane would help ease congestion says councillor

Coun Motala says drivers need an alternative to sitting in the snarl-ups, especially during the morning and evening rush hours.

"The best way would be to reopen the Fishergate bus lane to all traffic until this is sorted out," he told the Post.

"As a camera-controlled bus lane it forces traffic to go back around Avenham and feeds it onto Ringway, aggravating an already congested situation.

"If traffic could drive down Fishergate it would ease the pressure on Ringway and help what is, quite honestly, a nightmare situation for travellers."

Reopening the Fishergate bus lane could help reduce the pressure on Ringway.

The idea of switching the cameras off, says Coun Motala, came from a resident in his division who, like many locals, faces daily delays stuck in the Ringway traffic.

In his letter to LCC director of highways Phil Dornell and Coun Charlie Edwars, cabinet member for highways and transportation, Coun Motala wrote: "I have also received numerous calls from concerned residents and workers who are struggling to get from home to work on time and back, due to traffic on Ringway causing severe delays and tailbacks.

"I would like to suggest that the Fishergate bus lane is opened up for the duration while the work on the Ringway / Friargate junction is completed, to help ease the traffic problems on Ringway, which would also help many of my local residents travel to work and also benefit local businesses and staff working in the city centre.

"I would be therefore be extremely grateful if you could please look into the potential for the temporary removal of enforcement on Fishergate from 11am - 6pm to allow for the improved flow of traffic through the city."

Coun Yousuf Motala says the latest roadworks are causing delays that could be relieved by County Hall.

The bus lane suspension idea also got the backing of Coun Suleman Sarwar, who represents St Matthew's ward on Preston City Council.

He raised the case of private hire taxi drivers who, unlike black cabs, are prevented from using the Fishergate bus lane and are being caught up in the congesting caused by Ringway.

He contacted Coun Motala saying: "I have received several complaints over the past few days from taxi drivers about the new roadworks in the city centre which is causing huge issues for their business.

"Taxi drivers have asked if they could have the same rights as black cab drivers whilst these roadworks are on.

"Please could you speak to highways and raise this issue with them?"

John Davies, LCC's head of service, ruled out opening up the bus lane at present on safety grounds.

He said: "We have explored the option of opening the bus lane on Ringway to all traffic, but as it is in a pedestrian zone for majority of the day, for safety reasons it wouldn't be an option at the moment.

"We will continue to monitor traffic with the traffic management contractor and look into extending the traffic management signs and notices to provide road users with additional time to take alternative routes.

"Unfortunately we can't make major changes to these busy roads without causing some level of disruption, and we expect delays will soon reduce as people get used to travelling different routes.

"I'd like to thank people for their patience as we carry out this work, and assure them that the end result will be worth it as this area of Preston will become an attractive destination for all to enjoy."