Coast Road bus lane plan 'categorically' ruled out by Newcastle Council after 2025 claim

Traffic on the Coast Road near the Corner House junction in Heaton
-Credit: (Image: Craig Connor/ChronicleLive)


Council bosses have ruled out installing a bus lane on Newcastle’s Coast Road.

City transport officials have issued a fresh denial over what would be a major change to one of the busiest roads in and out of the city. After a claim this week that Newcastle City Council was aiming to introduce a bus lane on the route in 2025, the local authority has insisted that is not the case.

A spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service “categorically” that no bus lane will be installed on the Coast Road. They added that, since the question emerged earlier this year, new traffic modelling has been carried out which proved that it is “not feasible” to put a bus lane on a section of the Coast Road between the Corner House junction and Sandyford Road because of the resulting congestion it would cause on the surrounding transport network.

The potential for a Coast Road bus lane emerged back in February, when it was named in a lengthy study that listed various bus priority schemes in the pipeline across the North East.= Council officials flatly denied at the time that they were pursuing the idea, though later confirmed at a ‘call-in’ scrutiny hearing they would be examining the possibility as a potential measure to improve bus journey times during the disruption caused by the renovation of the Tyne Bridge.

While a Coast Road bus lane is one of numerous schemes in the city that could be installed as part of a £163.5 million Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) for the region, the city council has maintained that it has no obligation to do so. However, after a briefing for city councillors about the BSIP on Tuesday, Lib Dem representative Greg Stone claimed on social media that the council had “confirmed that they aim to introduce the plan in 2025”.

Civic centres bosses have insisted that is not true. A spokesperson said: “As set out previously, the Bus Priority Infrastructure Plan is an indicative plan of proposed schemes to improve bus journeys across the region, including five corridors in Newcastle. This was based on a 2018 study by external consultants.

“It is not plans for the city. It is for each local authority to conduct feasibility studies and determine what schemes would be appropriate on the identified corridors, to unlock funding to improve public transport on these key routes. We are committed to addressing concerns raised by communities about the reliability of public transport in our city and it is right that we explore these options to see how we can optimise traffic flow and prioritise bus travel. However, to be clear, we have no obligation to develop feasibility studies into plans for changes to our highways network.

Traffic on the Coast Road just after the Corner House junction in Heaton
Traffic on the Coast Road just after the Corner House junction in Heaton -Credit:Craig Connor/ChronicleLive

“We would reiterate our position in February and categorically say that no bus lane will be installed on that route. The development work has enabled us to confirm that traffic modelling shows that the bus priority lane from the Corner House to Sandyford Road is not a feasible option.”

As well as installing a westbound bus lane from the Corner House junction to Sandyford Road, the BSIP study also identified one lane of the Coast Road between Benfield Road and Chillingham Road as a possible bus lane location.

Coun Stone told the LDRS this week that he would have concerns about any new bus lane causing even worse tailbacks than drivers currently experience on the Coast Road. In 2022, a spot near the Corner House junction was named as by far the most polluted in the entire city.

He said: “There is a congestion and air quality problem on the Coast Road, everyone can see that every morning. The question, in my, view would be that if we are to bring the bus lane in whether that problem will actually get worse. Buses will be able to flow through faster, but will there be a significant impact on the rest of the road network?”

However, public transport campaigners have spoken out in support of the idea – expressing hope that the promise of faster bus journeys would encourage more commuters to leave their car at home. Alistair Ford, chair of Newcastle branch of North East Public Transport Users Group, said: "The long queues of private cars on the Coast Road have caused delays to buses for many years, making bus services slower, unreliable, and less attractive.

"They have also made this the spot with the highest air pollution in the city. We are trapped in a vicious spiral, with people less likely to use the bus because it is always late and using their cars instead, adding to the congestion and pollution. Why sit in a traffic queue on a bus when you can sit in a traffic queue in your own car? We need to break this cycle and think differently. North East Public Transport Users Group fully supports the provision of dedicated bus lanes along the Coast Road, which would make a huge difference to the speed and reliability of bus services and to the lives of people who rely on them.”