Bus lanes could force fares rise as jams move elsewhere

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Bus passengers could end up paying the price for a shift in traffic congestion caused by Preston’s revamped city centre.

New experimental bus lanes introduced in Fishergate two weeks ago are being blamed for an increase in hold-ups in Avenham and on Ringway.

Preston Bus say they have been forced to introduce extra drivers and vehicles on some routes to maintain schedules.

And the company has warned the extra costs could be passed on to ticket prices if the situation does not improve.

“If it is taking a bus an extra 10 or 15 minutes to complete a journey, the only way we can maintain schedules is to put more buses and drivers into service,” said a spokesman.

“Our services running down Fishergate are operating a lot better because the road is clear. The main issue is that drivers leaving St George’s Shopping Centre now have to do a complete loop of Avenham and Ringway and adding to the problems of congestion that already exist there.

“Buses using Ringway are experiencing delays and we’ve had to bring in extra staff. This has a cost impact which inevitably, at some point, will have to be passed on.

“Congestion (on Ringway) happens every year in the run-up to Christmas. But this year it is significantly worse.”

Motorists have started to obey new measures aimed at freeing the bottleneck in Fishergate’s shared space zone, after an initial period of confusion.

But with vehicles having to take a two-mile detour around the city, hold-ups are now disrupting Avenham and adding to Ringway’s problems.

Grace Rains, whose journey home to Penwortham now takes 55 minutes rather than 25, said: “Everyone is trying to find alternative routes. It’s an absolute joke.”