Bus gates placed in city centre to help the environment and traffic

Credit: Creative Commons

Ollie Rudden
Deputy News Editor

Gates have been placed on both Oswald Street and Union Street in an effort to stop private vehicles from entering the city centre during peak hours.

These gates are planned to be introduced on the main north and south bus corridors near Glasgow Central Station, where over 360 buses use these streets hourly during peak time.

The main goal of this measure is to reduce the high number of vehicles and delays on Glasgow’s main roads between the hours of 7am and 7pm, which planners hope will result in improved air quality and pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Glasgow City Council states that the gates will work by providing a traffic filter that grants access to buses, taxis and licenced private hire vehicles in both Oswald and Union Street. Bus lane cameras will be used to enforce the restriction, and diversion signs will also be in place to assist drivers of private vehicles in alternative directions while the measures are implemented.

Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS) stated that the bus gates will help to improve air quality, pedestrian and cyclist safety and speed up bus journeys.

John Bynorth, Policy and Communications Officer at EPS, stated: “Whilst they are unlikely to be popular with motorists, the launch of the ‘bus gates’ has been well sign-posted for car drivers in advance and should bring tangible long-term benefits for air quality, pedestrian and cyclist safety and speed up bus journey times.

“Glasgow City Council will be carrying out monitoring of the air quality impacts that the ‘bus gates’ streets will have, close to Union Street and Oswald Street. However, we expect the gates will reduce air pollution, improving health, particularly of pedestrians and cyclists. Taxi drivers, their passengers, and bus users could benefit too (with in-vehicle air pollution becoming a growing area of concern),­ and it makes the streets safer and quieter for other users by being less congested.

“One of the recent recommendations of Professor David Begg’s Connectivity Commission report commissioned by the city council was to accelerate journey times and provide more certainty for passengers about buses arriving on time by the rapid implementation of bus ‘priority measures’.

“Glasgow, and other Scottish cities, need bus services to run on time and average journey times to be cut if people are to be tempted away from bringing their cars into the city centre. Freeing up some of our busiest streets from private cars during the day is an effective way of helping to achieve this.

“In Union Street last week, I saw motorists taking heed of the signs and ‘bus gate’ markings on the road and turning left down Gordon Street, even though the restrictions were not yet operational. The city council will need to monitor the system so that doesn’t lead to a build-up of traffic on side streets, but hopefully the messages will be heard by drivers.

“The council should ensure that any fines for private car drivers who transgress the bus gates are ploughed back into improving cycle ways and pedestrian areas and improving the areas around bus stops in the city centre to encourage people to ditch their vehicles for either public transport or active travel and help to improve the overall environment.”