“Insane bus lane” not insane

It doesn’t take much to get the papers riled up, and the first mention of the ridiculous phrase “war on motorists” gets the predictable Pavlovian response from the papers all racing to defend the common man (or at least Jeremy Clarkson): The Telegraph runs with “Prescott’s M4 bus lane to be scrapped“, The Daily Mail with “End of the road for Prescott’s M4 bus lane as Tories scrap ‘symbol of Labour’s war on motorist’” and The Sun goes for “Tories to ditch insane bus lane“.

All of these articles try their hardest to give the impression that the M4 bus lane didn’t work, with photographs of empty bus lanes next to huge traffic jams. The bus lane is called “controversial”, “insane” and a “folly”. There could be no doubt that it didn’t work. Except…

What none of them mention is that the M4 bus lane reduces journey times – not just for buses and taxis, but for regular vehicles too. Thanks to the bus lane, drivers can now travel between junction 3 and junction 2 up to 6 minutes faster.

You see, the M4 bus lane doesn’t just let traffic get around the jams. It also stops a nasty bottleneck forming when the three lane motorway has to cross a two lane viaduct (which was in all likelihood the main reason for the bus lane being built). If the M4 bus lane gets reopened to cars, all that will happen is that that bottleneck will return and traffic jams will worsen.

If there’s anyone who’s declared “war on motorists”, surely its the politicians and journalists who want to increase congestion and deliberately complicate the road layout just to score a few political points?

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  1. #1 by Tom A on Friday, 1st October 2010 - 14:27 UTC

    Classic DM reader comment in the thread beneath the story:

    “how about halting immigration to try and stabilise the population then more roads will not be needed”

    Genius. It’s not easy to tie road congestion with immigration.

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