Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Greyhound Bridge Closure - Less Priority for Buses.

Greyhound Bridge
Greyhound Bridge carries the main Lancaster to Morecambe road over the River Lune as well as northbound traffic on the A6. Its importance in Lancaster's road network can be seen from this map, where it is the lower of the two crossings near the city centre, the other being Skerton Bridge, which carries south and eastbound traffic.

Despite it's importance, Lancashire County Council proposes to close it to all traffic for over six months from the end of January next year for "vital" maintenance work. The bridge originally carried the Lancaster to Morecambe railway line over the river and was converted to a roadway after the line closed in the 1960s. This allowed a one-way system to be set up with Skerton Bridge converted to carry only east and southbound traffic. Without the work the council says it would have to impose a weight limit on the bridge because of its condition.
Long-distance traffic will be encouraged to use the new Heysham Link Road - the A683 shown at the top of the map  - whilst all local traffic will be diverted over Skerton Bridge, which will revert to carrying two-way traffic for the duration. 

The closure will have a significant effect on bus services. Not only will west and north-bound services have to follow the diversion over Skerton Bridge, but buses will lose two important pieces of bus priority that help them to keep to time despite Lancaster's traffic.  At present, buses coming over Skerton Bridge into the city can turn right to  take advantage of a bus-only link to reach Parliament Street, which saves them from following other traffic around the back of the old Kingsway bus depot and Baths on Caton Road, saving them several minutes in the process. Once Skerton Bridge becomes two-way this will no longer be possible and buses will have to join the queue of other traffic on Caton Road.

This section of bus lane on Morecambe Road will have to carry all eastbound traffic with
 westboundvehicles using the adjacent lane (where the traffic is queueing.
The benefit of the bus lane to buses is clearly shown in the image above.
The second section of road to become two-way will be the Morecambe Road between the A6 and Carlisle Bridge, where it passes between Rylands Park and Our Lady's School. The current bus lane will carry all eastbound traffic with westbound vehicles using the general traffic lane.  Together with the loss of capacity for all vehicles during the work the suspension of these bus priorities is likely to cause serious problems for the bus operators, but details are now emerging of how they intend to cope.

Stagecoach intends to retain frequencies at current levels even though the increased journey times mean they will have to employ additional vehicles and drivers. As revenue is unlikely to increase - and may even decrease due to longer and less attractive journey times - this is a welcome move.

However, one major change is likely to come about. In order to confine reliability problems to the west side of the river the cross-city services that run between Heysham, Morecambe and the University are likely to be split at the bus station and operated in two parts. Passengers on services 2 2A 3 and 4 who now travel through the city centre will have to change buses at the bus station. Although inconvenient, this should ensure that delays suffered by buses crossing the river are not carried forward to affect services  - and passengers - between the city centre and University.  If this plan does go ahead we will post details of the new arrangements on our timetable pages.

The work is scheduled to start on 29th January and continue to August, although some necessary preparatory changes to the roads affected will happen before then.

1 comment:

  1. Would it not be possible for Parliament Street to become two way between Skerton Bridge and Greyhound Bridge? Traffic from Caton Road could still use the current route past Pizza Hut.