A tenth bus lane on busy city route is being considered, according to documents

A tenth bus lane could be installed in Preston city centre, according to documents. Highways bosses at Lancashire County Council are considering introducing “sections of bus lane” on Ribbleton Avenue – a busy route to the north east of Preston – correspondence seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has revealed.

The move comes with the paint barely dry on the latest bus priority restriction to be installed in the city – the bus gate on Corporation Street, on the outskirts of Preston city centre. Fines for flouting the new regulation are being handed out as of this week, following the end of a month-long grace period.

That scheme was the eighth bus lane or gate to be introduced in Preston. The ninth – which was agreed by county council cabinet members last month – is due to be put in place this autumn, with a bus lane coming to a stretch of New Hall Lane. A petition opposing the project attracted more than 350 signatures.

While County Hall confirmed that Ribbleton Avenue in Ribbleton – otherwise known as the B6243 – was being considered as Preston’s latest bus lane location, it stressed that the embryonic idea was not yet a fully-formed proposal.

The documentation seen by the LDRS did not specify which stretches of Ribbleton Avenue – which runs between Ribbleton Hall Drive and Acregate Lane – could be in line for a new bus lane. However, some sections would seem to rule themselves out by being so narrow that there is only enough room for one lane of traffic to flow in each direction.

Bus lanes and gates have a long history in the city and, as the LDRS revealed in April, the seven such restrictions in operation in Preston between April 2023 and March this year, generated more than 29,000 fines for unsuspecting – or disregarding – drivers.

However, their most recent proliferation comes against the backdrop of the Lancashire and Blackburn Bus Service Improvement Plan – a multi-million pound government-funded initiative which finances locally-designed measures to make bus travel more attractive.

A Lancashire County Council spokesperson said of the prospect of a bus lane Ribbleton Avenue: “We’re making a number of improvements to bus services in Lancashire as part of our Bus Service Improvement Plan. These include improvements to the Preston-to-Longridge corridor, including upgraded bus stops in Longridge.

“We are also considering the possibility of introducing sections of bus lane on Ribbleton Avenue. This is still in the early stages and if proposals are drawn up and progressed, residents will have a chance to look at them and have their say during a public consultation. A key aspect of our £42m Bus Service Improvement Plan is to introduce bus priority measures in a number of locations to improve reliability and journey times and, in many instances, improve the general flow of traffic.

“We have published details of a number of these schemes on our website so that people can see what we’re proposing – and have begun the process of carrying out wider public engagement on some of the measures.”

BUS LANE OR BUS GATE?

A bus lane is reserved for buses – and sometimes cyclists and taxis – and runs either with or against the flow of traffic along a route.

A bus gate is a point beyond which only buses and authorised vehicles may pass.

Both may operate either around the clock or at certain times of day.