New bus gate a 'significant stride towards improving bus reliability' in Preston

Bus operators have praised a new bus gate set to be introduced in Preston city centre later this month, declaring that it will "significantly improve" bus services in the area.

The section of Corporation Street between Marsh Lane and Heatley Street, near the university campus, will give priority to buses in both directions from Tuesday 21 May 2024.

Buses, Hackney Carriages and bicycles will be allowed to use this section of Corporation Street, but private-hire taxis won't be able to. It will be in effect 24 hours a day.

Part of wider improvements to Preston city centre, the bus gate aims to improve bus reliability and ease congestion, while encouraging more people to use public transport and forms of active travel such as walking and cycling.

Along this section of Corporation Street, there are more than 2,700 bus journeys each week. Reducing traffic levels on Corporation Street, especially at peak times, will improve this route to and from the University of Central Lancashire, Ring Way, the city centre and the railway station. Reliable services will encourage people to think about using the bus.

Mike Stevens, Stagecoach's Assistant Operations Manager for Preston and Chorley, said:

"We at Stagecoach eagerly anticipate the implementation of the new bus gate on Corporation Street in central Preston. This initiative represents a significant stride towards improving bus reliability and fostering sustainable transportation in the area. By prioritising buses along this key route this will ease congestion and provide quicker journeys for passengers.

"We expect the Corporation Street bus gate to substantially enhance bus reliability and reduce congestion, encouraging modal shifts towards eco-friendly modes of travel. We commend the collaborative efforts of Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council, and the University of Central Lancashire in spearheading this initiative as part of wider city centre improvements, supported by the Transforming Cities Fund project.

"As we move forward, we urge the public to familiarize themselves with the altered road network and adhere to designated routes. At Stagecoach, we are committed to delivering reliable, accessible, and environmentally responsible transportation solutions, contributing to a more sustainable future for Preston and its residents."

Dave Wright, Operations Manager for Preston Bus, said: “We are looking forward to the go-live of the new bus gate, which will significantly improve punctuality on our services along Corporation Street, and would like to thank our customers for bearing with us while these works have been ongoing."

Alterations are being made to the road network in the area to provide alternative routes.

The one-way street on Marsh Lane between Corporation Street and Friargate will be changed to provide a route for drivers who find themselves at the bus gate and can't use it, taking people back towards the university.

People are urged to find out about the alterations to the network in this part of the city before they travel, as routes could be different to your previous journeys.

County Councillor Rupert Swarbrick, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said:

"We know this part of Corporation Street can be a traffic hotspot with queuing traffic at busier times. Our aim is to reduce the number of vehicles coming through this area, when there are other suitable alternative routes for them.

"People will still be able to travel by car if they wish to, but it will involve a slightly different route. By reducing congestion on Corporation Street, we can increase the reliability for public transport and encourage more people to think about catching the bus.

"We don't want to issue any fines so please be aware of the changes on these roads and follow the correct route using the clearly displayed signs."

The bus gate is part of the Transforming Friargate North and Ringway scheme, which received funding from the government's Transforming Cities Fund project. This is being delivered by Lancashire County Council, in partnership with Preston City Council and the University of Central Lancashire.

The aim of this scheme is to improve links between parts of the city to encourage increased bus use, walking and cycling into and around the city centre, as well as making Friargate a more appealing place for people to shop, eat and visit.

This change is part of wider improvements in and around the city centre including the new cycleway along Ringway and the new junction at Strand Road and Fishergate Hill.

Claire Lowe, Head of Space & Property Management at the University of Central Lancashire, said:

“The University is already feeling the benefits of the Transforming Cities Fund which has opened a gateway between the University and the city of Preston with our students enjoying the newly developed Friargate as a great destination to eat, drink and meet up.

"The new cycling infrastructure and increased bus reliability will improve sustainable travel within the city.”

Once the Corporation Street bus gate becomes operational on Tuesday 21 May 2024, warnings will be issued to drivers who use this section when they shouldn't.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras will be used.

Following this short grace period, Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) will be issued to discourage people from driving down the bus gate when they shouldn't.

Signage is clearly displayed in the area to warn drivers of the bus gate to ensure they don't do this.

A bus gate is already in place on Tithebarn Street, near the bus station.

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