The final cost of Birmingham’s ill-fated Tyburn Road bus lane will be more than £2.6 million, it has been revealed.
For the first time, Birmingham City Council has disclosed how much it spent on the bus lane on the busy A38 commuter route before abandoning it after five years because it slowed traffic down instead of easing congestion.
The cost of setting up the lane, which ran from Spaghetti Junction to Kingsbury Road, Erdington, was £2.5 million.
A further £17,000 went on a public consultation carried out in 2006 to decide its future.
Another £88,000 will be spent in September removing the system once and for all by painting over it and taking down signs.
City transport boss Coun Len Gregory provided the figures during a meeting of the full council in answer to written questions by members. He said the £2.5 million consisted of new traffic signals, verge parking, carriageway construction and bus stop infrastructure.
Labour politicians, whose party commissioned the bus lane, criticised the authority’s current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition over its decision to axe it.
Coun Kath Hartley (Lab, Ladywood), a member of the transport and street services overview and scrutiny committee and West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, said it was short-sighted.
“It would have cost just £18,000 to retain the bus lanes for peak hours only, instead of £88,000 to remove them completely,” she said. “I can think of plenty of things on which this council could have better spent £70,000.”
But Coun Gregory said: “The decision not to reinstate the bus lane and to remove obsolete infrastructure was based on the findings of a comprehensive consultation exercise. It was also based on a review of traffic data between 2003 and 2008 and support for the action by a majority of local members.”
Traffic flow figures have also revealed the route has speeded up so much since the bus lane was scrapped that Tyburn Road is now the fastest radial route into the city – roads on which traffic moves around and through the city.
The bus lane opened in 1999 but it was suspended in 2004 with the council claiming it was necessary but temporary because of the partial closure of the M6 during major maintenance work. It remained in limbo for four years until last year when the council announced it would be scrapped for good.
A council spokeswoman said none of the original £2.5 million costs had come from local funds but had been financed by Department of Transport cash.