Friday, October 1, 2010

Took them long enough

It was probably the most idiotic decisions in the history of road management and environmentalism, even now the thought still brings consternation to the mind as well as a great deal of anger when you actually came up against it, which I occasionally did when when service engineering in and around London. We are talking Prescott's folly (or one of them, there were so many) the M4 bus lane.

The controversial M4 bus lane is to be scrapped at the end of the year.
All motorists will again be able to use the 3.5-mile (5.6km) lane, which operates on the London-bound carriageway from near Heathrow Airport.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed the move, saying the bus lane was "not effective".
It will be suspended from 24 December for 18 months when the lane come back into use for the Olympics, after which it will be scrapped for good.
The motorway's third lane between junctions three and two - which carries about 7% of London-bound traffic - is reserved for buses, licensed black taxis and motorcycles.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Hammond argued that the bus lane was symbolic of Labour's ''war on the motorist''.
He said: "Well it was a piece of folly wasn't it?
"Introduced 10 years ago, predicted not to be effective and in fact that's been the experience of most people.
"They sit sweltering in traffic queues watching an empty lane by the side of them with just the occasional vehicle going down it."
The bus lane was introduced by then Transport Secretary John Prescott in 1999.
It became known by some as the "Blair lane" after the former prime minister used it to avoid heavy traffic.
Mr Prescott responded to Mr Hammond's comments in his blog, saying: "Studies by the independent Transport Research Laboratory proved the M4 bus lane succeeded in reducing traffic jams.
"This is actually just another smokescreen for the beginning of the deepest and most savage public sector cuts Britain has ever seen."
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "Most drivers on the M4 will wonder why this decision has taken so long.
"Road capacity is in short supply and to have an underused lane like this has made little sense."
You have a whole network of bus lanes throughout the country, under used and under utilised, in London they even use cameras to pick off frustrated motorists who dare to trespass on holy ground during moments (very long moments to be sure) of congestion. Yes buses might hold more passengers, but there weren't a lot of buses and they didn't seem to carry so many passengers anyway, the whole scheme when added to the congestion charge by that other idiot red Ken Livingstone was an attempt to force drivers out of their cars and on to local transport and as such socialist schemes ever were, was a total failure as well as totally hypocritical as those who deigned such schemes necessary, never used them. I doubt Prescott ever used a bus on the M4, he had the ministerial jag and police outriders to ease his way into London.
Yes there is congestion, but it was frequently exacerbated by schemes meant to prevent it, bus lanes, the closure of rat runs (health and safety think of the cheeeeeldren) forced increasing numbers of motorists into ever narrower routes that they could take. Did it force them out of their cars? No, it might have been sensible for a few locals to use the bus, but a large majority of those stuck in congestion were contractors like me from outside of London (no doubt it's the same in other cities) carrying a full load of spares and tools to keep the businesses of London running.
As white elephants go, the M4 bus lane was a pachyderm of immense size, I'm glad it's going. it would be nicer if the government would just for one come up with a sensible transport policy for the country as a whole without being pressured by very narrow interest pressure groups and "Nimby's" But, I'm not going to hold my breath on that one, not whilst there are idiots like Chris Huhne in the government who worship at the altar of Gaia.

3 annotations:

JuliaM said...

A lot of the 'pull ins' for busses were filled in (allegedly because motorists wouldnt let busses filter back out into traffic) with the result that motorists can't get past a halted bus, causing traffic jams.

With the result that, when you come to a leftover pull in with a bus in it, NO-ONE lets him out!

Fascist Hippy said...

So it doesn't work but we will use it for the Olympics, when did bus racing become an Olympic sport?

English Pensioner said...

I don't think this lane at Heathrow makes a lot of difference except as extra parking space so allowing the traffic to get off the M4. The bulk of the vehicles want to enter the airport and have to use the two lane tunnel. It is always jammed, so the extra lane just means more hassle at the tunnel entrance.

What infuriates me more at Terminal 1 is that even if you know someone is ready and waiting to be picked up, you are routed into the car park and have to pay. The solution? Pick them up at Terminal 1 arrivals!