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Bus lane on Tregolls Road statement from portfolio holder

Because of the controversy over the introduction of a bus lane on the inbound carriageway of Tregolls Road, I asked a question to the portfolio holder at the Full Council meeting of 24 November and received a formal written reply, see below.

I think that the matter is now closed, but lessons have been learnt from the exercise.

November 2015

Question from Bob Egerton to Bert Biscoe, portfolio holder for transport

On 2 November, the Council brought into effect a bus lane on the inbound carriageway of Tregolls Road, Truro. The immediate effect of this was to cause long tailbacks of traffic on the inbound routes into Truro in the morning rush hours, adding an estimated 15-25 minutes to journey times. The hope that this would prove to be a short-term problem that would ease once motorists became used to the new road layout proved to be unfounded. The delays to journey times affected not just private motorists but also buses, which the project was supposed to help. Truro College buses were running some 20 minutes late each day. By early in the week commencing 9 November, the evidence that the new system was not working and that it would not improve was incontrovertible. It was clear that the restrictions on this section of road should be removed. Why did the Portfolio Holder choose to delay the removal of the bus lane, thus prolonging the senseless and unnecessary delays and causing even more public criticism of the Council’s performance in these matters?

Reply from Councillor Biscoe

The in-bound bus lane along Tregolls Road was designed to provide a clearway for buses and to encourage road users to use the new park and ride facility at Tregurra. Immediately it was introduced the contractors began to collect data from cameras, sensors and, on a more subjective level, from road users.

It was determined to evaluate early returns two weeks after implementation. A gas leak on the A39 caused a significant impediment to traffic flows for two days which affected the integrity of the data. The evaluation occurred on Thursday 19th November. Journey times from the Tregurra junction had worsened. Surprisingly, some road users opted to use the Tregurra park-and-ride car park as a shortcut to enable them to access Moresk Road. This is a safe route to school, a narrow single track semi-rural road. Scheme designers had not anticipated such a reaction. The evaluation meeting concluded that the bus lane should be removed as it was counter-productive to the success of the overall park and ride scheme.

Removal requires the revocation of a traffic order, signage, and a communications strategy. We anticipate that the bus lane will be de-commissioned in mid January 2016. In January the road will be planed and the colouring reverted to blacktop. This will be done as part of planned maintenance works, overnight, to prevent delays during rush hour.

The bus lane removal will cost up to £30,000, paid for from the contingency line of the scheme’s budget. The overall scheme figure is estimated in the region of £12m. In an engineering scheme of this nature it is not always possible to predict reactions or outcomes, and this has been the case here. The scheme is funded by EU ERDF Convergence, Growth Fund, s278 Agreements and a relatively small sum of Council ‘match funding’. Within the overall project budget the cost of bus lane remediation will not cause a problem.

The contractors and the Council have acted properly and in a responsible manner to gather data over a sensible period and to professionally conduct the evaluation. It is unfortunate that this element of a very complex scheme has proved unsuccessful. In a perfect world we would have had the perfect foresight to avoid it. I apologise for the disruption and delays to people who use Tregolls Road. Any scheme of this type and scale needs those who are affected by it to understand why it is happening, what it is intended to achieve, how it works and what the outcomes are, and to enable them to feed-in reactions and suggestions.

The engineering has been well done by all concerned, including the rectification of mistakes. The psychology and communications aspects offer clear learning opportunities for the Council and its contractors. These will be pursued. I thank everybody for their contributions to progressing the future traffic management of Truro and assure you that key lessons are already being learned as evaluation continues and the scheme moves towards completion.

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