Motorists and hauliers are to benefit from an extra lane on a key stretch of the M4 near London, Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, announced today (4 October 2010).
This will be achieved by suspending the M4 bus lane and opening it to all motorists travelling towards the capital - not just licensed black taxis, motorcycles and buses.
The Transport Secretary ordered the suspension after latest analysis showed that journey times at peak periods would be reduced for car drivers and hauliers without significantly affecting vehicles currently allowed to use the lane.
The suspension will begin before Christmas and remain in place until June 2012 when the lane becomes part of the Olympic Route Network for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. After this the intention is to remove it permanently.
Philip Hammond said:
I want to keep traffic moving and improve journey time reliability through making the most of our existing roads.
The M4 is a vital strategic route and therefore it is important that we do everything possible to reduce congestion on it.
Once the Olympics are over my intention is to scrap the bus lane permanently as I believe excluding road users in this way is unfair and damaging to the economy.
The Highways Agency will monitor the suspension over the next 18 months and traffic data gathered will be used to inform the government’s final decision about the future of the bus lane.
Notes to editors
The M4 bus lane runs eastbound towards London for 3.5 miles between junctions 3 and 2 of the three lane section of motorway.
An experimental order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 will come into force on 8 November 2010. From this date work will take place to suspend the bus lane, including the removal of signs and road markings and introduction of a revised road layout.
The lane is expected to be fully open to all road users from 24 December 2010 until June 2012 when the Olympic Delivery Authority plans to put in place traffic management measures on this section of the Olympic Route Network to facilitate onward travel by athletes arriving at Heathrow.
If evidence supports the permanent removal of the bus lane, then a revocation order will be made following the appropriate processes, including consultation.