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Building work to start in July on bus priority scheme

Construction on a bus priority scheme which aims to make some West Leeds services six minutes quicker during peak times, looks set to begin in July 2020, writes Keely Bannister.

A report to the council’s decision-making executive board on Tuesday, 7 January will seek approval to spend £13.9m to carry out detailed design and construction of the A58 Beckett Street scheme.

The scheme aims to improve the reliability of the 4, 4G, 16, 16a, 42, 49, 50 and 50a bus services, all of which run through West Leeds.

If agreed at the meeting, the changes will see improvements to Beckett Street north and south of the junction with Lincoln Green Road, including:

  • The southern section widened to accommodate a new section of bus lane outbound and a bi-directional cycleway on the eastern side of the carriageway. This is achieved by widening into the existing highways verge to the west with no loss of space for existing traffic.   
  • The northern section is widened to accommodate new bus lanes outbound and inbound and continuing the new bi-directional segregated cycle facility along the eastern side of the carriageway where it terminates at Museum St. This is achieved by widening into existing highways verge on both sides and adjacent verge on the eastern side with no loss of space for existing traffic.  
  • Outside St James University Hospital the existing Leeds City Council car parks are being altered at a cost of 9 spaces to provide more space to accommodate improved bus stop facilities and an improved pedestrian environment.  

Consultation on detailed designs for the improvements took place in July and August 2019, with 72% of respondents feeling either positive or slightly positive about the proposed changes to the route, 16% feeling slightly negative or negative and a further 12% feeling neutral about the proposals.

Construction – which is expected to be completed in March 2021 – will see some overlap with ongoing work in the city centre that has led to buses getting snarled in traffic at peak times and struggling to run on time.

As detailed in the report, the scheme is predicted to have a positive impact on the climate emergency that Leeds City Council declared in March 2019, stating:

“By improving bus journey times and reliability, and improving facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, these schemes are anticipated to encourage modal shift from private car to bus and cycling. 

“This is expected to contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The anticipated reduction in car usage will also have a beneficial impact on air quality, linking in with the proposed CAZ boundaries and its operation of reducing nitrogen oxide particles.”

The A58 Beckett Street scheme is estimated to generate 48,000 new bus trips annually, and the A58 York Street scheme 15,600 new trips annually as a result of improvements in bus journey time and reliability.

Connecting Leeds comprises a programme of funding of £270 million to be invested in a number of public transport schemes across Leeds. 

Funding for Connecting Leeds comprises money from the Department for Transport (following the cancellation of the Leeds trolleybus scheme) alongside the council, Combined Authority, bus operators and developers.  

As The Dispatch has previously reported, Connecting Leeds schemes need to be “substantially completed” by 20/21 or risk losing their funding.

You can view the report on the scheme here.

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