Bus companies brand Oxford LTNs a ‘failure’

16/10/2023
Ellie Ames

Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Oxford have ‘made congestion worse’ and delayed bus services, operators have argued ahead of a crunch decision on the future of the schemes.

On Tuesday, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet will decide whether to agree officers’ recommendation and make permanent three LTNs in east Oxford following a trial that began in May 2022.

In response to a consultation, Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach and Thames Travel submitted a report on the impact to their services of closing residential roads to through traffic.

The report states that LTNs have ‘directly caused bus services across the bulk of Oxford to become substantially slower, even less reliable, and as a result have further substantially reduced bus patronage and mileage, seriously aggravating the challenges caused by the Covid crisis.’

‘Entirely exasperating’ journey times, in many cases little different from or slower than walking, have reduced passenger numbers,' according to the operators.

They argue that the damage to bus services exceeds that experienced by any other mode of transport, ‘including, perversely, private car use’, and conclude that the LTN scheme has been ‘a failure in almost all respects, including in its own terms’.

A report to be discussed by Oxfordshire’s cabinet tomorrow says trial traffic filters on six streets are likely to alleviate congestion and make bus journeys more reliable.

However, the filters will not be introduced until work on Oxford’s train station is complete, which is not expected until autumn 2024. One option is for the LTNs to be removed now and reinstalled at this time.

Officers are working on other measures to reduce the impact of congestion on buses, but these ‘are not likely to fully mitigate bus service delays in the short term’, according to the council report.

The article first appeared on localgov.co.uk.

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