More Improvements to Speed Up Bus Journeys

WORK on the latest phase of a series of bus priority corridors in Reading will begin later this week (w/c March 19), with passengers again set to benefit from quicker and more reliable journey times when complete.

Bus use in Reading is bucking the national trend with one million more passenger trips on the Council-owned bus company last year.

The third section of the South Reading Mass Rapid Transit scheme will see improvements at key locations on the bus network. They are:

  • Extension of the inbound bus lane on Bridge Street (starting w/c March 19)
  • Construction of an ‘outbound’ bus lane on London Street (scheduled for April)
  • Upgrade to ‘smart’ traffic lights on the Oracle roundabout (scheduled for Summer)

The work will be carried out by Reading Borough Council’s own Highways Team, in advance of the annual resurfacing programme in the summer. The Bridge Street, London Street and Oracle roundabout elements are expected to take place with little disruption to road users. Where  a temporary lane closure is needed on London Street, the inbound bus lane will be closed and buses will be diverted so that an outbound lane remains in use for all southbound traffic.

When work on Phase 3 is complete, work will move back to the A33 on the following elements:

  • Outbound bus lane on the A33 approach to Rose Kiln Lane
  • Outbound bus lane on the A33 between Rose Kiln Lane and Lindisfarne Way (Kennet Island)
  • Inbound bus lane on the A33 between Imperial Way and South Oak Way
  • Upgrade to ‘smart’ traffic signals on the Bennet Road gyratory

This phase of the work will be carried out by an external contractor and is due to start in the summer. Measures will be taken to reduce any disruption to the flow of traffic while the construction works take place, including limiting any necessary lane closures to off peak hours only.

The schemes will not reduce existing highway capacity along the A33, or in the town centre, as additional lanes are being implemented for public transport use and all existing lanes for general traffic will be retained. In addition, the upgrades to ‘smart’ traffic lights will provide significant benefits to general traffic, as well as public transport.

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“These are the latest in a series of bus corridor improvements delivered by the Council to make our bus services even more reliable and further speed up journey times.

“Reading is a busy town with a great many demands on limited road space. The only way we can alleviate those demands is by providing quick and reliable alternatives to the car which avoid delays and offer commuters an easy and realistic option.

“It is  important to note any A33 lane closures will be off peak only and that the new bus lanes are being built by the Council with no reduction in road capacity for other vehicles.”

Approval for Phases 3 and 4 of the South Reading Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) by the Berkshire Local Transport Body came in November, meaning the business case has been independently approved and demonstrates high value for money.

The work on Phases 3 and 4 follow on from the first two phases of the South Reading MRT completed by the Council. The first section of the A33 bus lane – southbound between the Imperial Way (Tesco) roundabout and M4 Junction 11 – opened in December 2016.

Work on the  second phase –  running between Kennet Island and Imperial Way – was opened in December 2017. It means Mereoak Park & Ride buses avoid delays at South Oak Way roundabout, enjoying a clear run between Bennet Road and Imperial Way for the first time ever. Weekday bus commuters can return to their cars at Mereoak quicker and there are quicker bus journey times for football fans returning to Mereoak after a game, and also for 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.

Notes to Editors:

Funding of over £10m for the South Reading MRT phases 3 & 4 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.

Oscar Mortali

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