BUS passengers using the Mereoak Park and Ride can expect quicker journey times along the busy A33 from this week after the opening of a key new stretch of bus lane yesterday (Dec 12).
The completion of the second phase of Reading Borough Council’s new A33 bus lane – known as the South Reading MRT – means that Mereoak Park and Ride buses will avoid delays at the South Oak Way roundabout, enjoying a clear run between the junctions with Bennet Road and Imperial Way.
The opening of the new southbound bus lane means weekday bus commuters can return to their cars at Mereoak quicker. It also means quicker bus journey times for football fans returning to Mereoak after a game, and for also fans who use the football buses to travel to the Madejski Stadium from the Town Centre.
The Council hopes the quicker journey times will encourage even more people to use the Mereoak Park and Ride bus as a quick and easy alternative to the car. Standard day return including parking is just £4, with multi ride smartcards bringing the daily cost down to £3.28 per day, or an off peak car load for £5.
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The opening of this key stretch of bus lane by the Council offers Mereoak Park and Ride passengers a quicker journey time along the A33 – one of most important and busiest commuter routes not only in Reading, but across the whole region.
“The only way the Council can alleviate the sheer number of vehicles which use the A33 is to provide quick and reliable alternatives to the car which avoid delays and offer commuters an easy and realistic option. It is also important to note this bus lane was built by the Council with no reduction in road capacity for other vehicles.
“For people who regularly commute to and from Reading Town Centre for work or to shop, I would urge them to try the Mereoak Park and Ride bus service as an alternative. I am pleased the quicker bus service will also benefit the many hundreds of Reading FC fans who use the football buses or the Park and Ride to travel from town to the Madejski, or to get from the ground back to their vehicles at Mereoak after a game.”
The South Reading MRT is a dedicated series of new bus lanes being built by Reading Borough Council on the south and northbound carriageway of the A33, speeding up journey times for all road users along one of Reading’s busiest and most important commuter routes. No road capacity for other vehicles is being lost in order to create the new bus lane, with extra space created by using land alongside the existing highway and from the central reservation.
The first section of the A33 bus lane – southbound between the Imperial Way (Tesco) roundabout and M4 Junction 11 – opened in December last year. Work on the second phase – running between Kennet Island and Imperial Way – started in the Spring and was completed this week, giving Mereoak P & R buses a clear run between Bennet Road and Imperial Way for the first time ever.
Last month the Berkshire Transport Body approved the business cases for Phases 3 and 4, meaning they have been independently approved and demonstrate high value for money. Work on Phases 3 and 4 is set to begin early next year. It will start with the town centre sections – in London Street and Bridge Street – and will then move back to the A33 in the summer. Phase 3 is scheduled to be completed by late 2018 and Phase 4 will be delivered during 2019.
Funding for the South Reading MRT is provided via the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), with capital funding allocated through the LEP’s Growth Deal with central Government. The money is external funding the Council has successfully bid for and which cannot be used to fund other day to day Council services. Further phases of the scheme are being planned to help manage the forecast future demand on this corridor, with delivery subject to the Council again securing external funding.