More than £4.7m could be spent on new bus lanes in Taunton town centre

The A38 East Reach in Taunton
The A38 East Reach in Taunton -Credit:Google Maps

More than £4.7m could be spent on delivering new bus lanes in Taunton town centre over the next 12 months using central government funding. Somerset County Council secured £11.9m of funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) in April 2022 following the approval of its bus services improvement plan (BSIP), designed to improve bus services across Somerset and encourage higher passenger numbers.

Numerous initiatives have already been implemented using this funding to make it easier for people to use Somerset's bus services, including the Taunton fare zone and subsidies for the town's park and ride services. Somerset Council (which replaced the county council in April 2023) has now hinted that millions of pounds could be spent before April 2025 to deliver new "bus priority lanes" across Somerset's county town, making bus journeys faster and easier on key routes.

Details of the bus lanes were included in the draft BSIP for 2024/25, which was published ahead of a bus advisory board meeting held on Tuesday morning (April 30). The various bus lanes are being implemented as part of three 'greenwaves', focussing on services approaching the town from the west, north and east.

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On the western approach to the town, an eastbound bus lane will be constructed on the A38 Wellington Road, running from the Orchard Grove park and bus facility for up to 800 metres towards the Tangier area. A bus gate will also be introduced at the junction of Corporation Street and Park Street, with numerous traffic signals along Wellington Road being enhanced.

On top of these measures, 150 metres of carriageway will be turned into a bus-only route towards the new Taunton mobility hub. These changes to the western approach to Taunton will cost an estimated £1,857,040, with the detailed scheme currently being worked up and highway officers looking at the best time to schedule this construction before April 2025.

Entrance to the Orchard Grove development on the A38 Wellington Road in Taunton
Entrance to the Orchard Grove development on the A38 Wellington Road in Taunton -Credit:Daniel Mumby

On the northern side of town, improvements will be made to cut journey times to and from the railway station, with a north-bound bus lane being planned for the A3038 Station Road running 450 metres between the junction with the A3027 Staplegrove Road and the junction with Whitehall. Traffic signals will be improved on Bridge Street, Priory Bridge Road, Station Road and Tangier Way to facilitate the new lane - with all these improvements expected to cost £1,020,750.

A council spokesman said: "This scheme aims to improve bus journey times between the town centre and the railway station. This scheme remains at a feasibility phase and decisions are yet to be made as to what will be implemented."

On the eastern approach to the town, bus lanes will operate in both directions along the A3027 East Street and the A38 East Reach between Wordsworth Drive and the Market House. There will also be improvements to signals on Hurdle Way and along this corridor before April 2025, at a cost of £1,852,550.

The A3038 Station Road in Taunton
The A3038 Station Road in Taunton

Implementing all of these new bus lanes, bus gates and traffic signal improvements is expected to cost £4,730,340 in total - with every penny coming from central government, rather than out of the council's own budgets. These improvements are designed to complement the delivery of the new Taunton mobility hub (on the former bus station site on Tower Street), which will be served by both local buses and national coach services.

A spokesman said: "The mobility hub will feature bus elective vehicle charging points, waiting spaces for public transport customers, bike storage and repair facilities, e-scooter facilities, other concessions as required following user consultation, travel information (including access points to Somerset's Think Travel Portal), real-time passenger information, and taxi/ private car drop-off facilities.

"The local bus network will be redefined to see all local and intra-urban services operate through the mobility hub, providing direct links from the hub to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton railway station, local enterprise zones and business parks, and the Taunton park and ride sites."

The delivery of this mobility hub is budgeted to cost £2,715,050, with a further £510,000 being allocated to a smaller, similar "rural hub" in Somerton.