The cost of removing a bus lane from one of Birmingham’s busiest commuter routes which has been out of action for four years, could be more than £250,000 and force the city council to hold an expensive public inquiry, it has been claimed.
All of the road markings, signs and traffic signals depicting the A38 Tyburn Road bus lane remain in place, although restrictions on motorists using the section of the carriageway once reserved for buses were lifted by the council in the autumn of 2004.
Legal approval to operate the bus lane, which runs from Spaghetti Junction to Kingsbury Road, ran out 18 months ago and now council leaders must decide whether to reinstate the restrictions or remove completely all evidence of the former bus lane.
Labour transportation spokeswoman Kath Hartley said she had been told by a senior council engineer that the estimated cost of removing the bus lane in its entirety would be £250,000. But the figure, which was given more than a year ago, is likely to have risen since then.
She is calling for the lane to be reinstated, but at peak times only.
Her comments were supported by transportation scrutiny committee chairman Martin Mullaney, who said it would be a “waste of money” to remove the bus lane markings.
Coun Mullaney (Lib Dem Moseley & Kings Heath) warned that any attempt to scrap the bus lane could result in a public inquiry. He believes the inquiry could be forced by objections from bus company Travel West Midlands.
TWM has said its services along the Tyburn Road into and out of the city centre at peak times have been delayed since the bus lane was suspended.
Coun Mullaney added: “I think the best solution is to compromise by reintroducing the bus lane at peak times, so it would operate into the city in the morning rush hour and out of the city in the afternoon.
“It would certainly cost a lot of money to remove the lane because you would have to resurface the road.”
Transportation cabinet member Len Gregory is expected to decide the long-term future of the Tyburn Road next year.
But the decision will not be made until council officials have had an opportunity to examine the impact on traffic patterns of the Heartland Spine Road car sharing scheme, which runs parallel to the Tyburn Road.
It emerged earlier this week that police are again patrolling the car share lane, although it is believed no fines have been handed out since March. Local councillor Lynda Clinton claimed the car share scheme had led to more congestion.
Coun Clynton (Lab Tyburn) added: “The A47 was not a congested road. The only part which is now is the lane occupied by drivers trying to get to work.
“Our police are already over stretched so why make them do an extra six months of trying to catch the motorists? We should remember they are not being employed to pick up speeding, dangerous drivers – only those who are in the wrong lane.
“The car share lanes are disjointed and misleading - no wonder motorists concentrating on their driving sometimes make mistakes.”
A Travel West Midlands spokeswoman said: “We are keen to continue conversations with the city council and await their full report.”
* Bus lanes were introduced on Tyburn Road in 1999 as part of the Route 67 Bus Showcase.
* In autumn 2004 the lanes were “temporarily” suspended to coincide with major repair work on M6.
* In 2005 Travel West Midlands claimed peak-time bus services are subject to lengthy delays.
* City Council announced investigation into traffic flows along Tyburn Road in 2006.
* Legal permission to continue operating bus lanes expired summer 2007.
* Cabinet member Len Gregory announces he will not decide the future of the bus lanes until 2009.