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May 30

Cabbies fight bus lane ban as traffic backs up in town

CAB drivers are looking into possible legal action against new bus lanes that have caused town centre traffic jams.

The controversial lanes were introduced on several roads around Fareham town centre a month ago, aimed at speeding up buses using the rapid transit route between Fareham and Gosport.

But other motorists have been left frustrated by the jams they are causing.

At a meeting of the Fareham Hackney Association, which included representatives from many local taxi firms, it was agreed that they would consider pursuing a legal challenge to the current ban on cabbies using the lanes, which are being trialled for 18 months.

Paul Webber, chairman of the association, said: ‘The drivers have always been generally against the lanes, but we are being diplomatic about it.

‘We are checking out the legalities of the situation here – most places have “bus and taxi only” signs, and there have been other cases on this issue in other places, but it is a grey area.

‘And the public are pretty much ignoring the bus lanes around the Quay Street roundabout, but we are trying to abide by them because we’re much more noticeable with our badges and toplights.’

Councillor Peter Davies, Fareham’s spokesman for public transport, said: ‘On principle it would only seem fair that the taxis could also use the lanes – that’s the same as it is for most other local authorities.

‘As it stands, the bus lanes are daft. Whatever scheme you have, it must include taxis as they are an important part of the public transport mix.

‘And we must aim to keep as many buses as possible away from the Quay Street roundabout. If you have bus lanes, they have got to be enforceable but the situation on Portland Street is a joke.’

Hampshire County Council, which is responsible for the lanes, has previously said that although the lanes are limited to just buses, this will be kept under review, and could change.

While the trial is due to last 18 months, the county council has said it could complete it earlier if it feels it has gathered enough data.

source: http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/

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