Councillor column: don’t impose bus lanes

Barnet Vale councillor David Longstaff calls on Barnet’s Labour administration to not install bus lanes across Barnet

A rear view of a bus in front of the words 'Bus Lane' on the road in Stamford Hill.
A bus lane in Stamford Hill. Councillor David Longstaff (Conservative, Barnet Vale) does not want to see more of them in Barnet – (Credit – TfL)

Now in my fourteenth year as a councillor for High Barnet and Barnet Vale, I can’t recall any residents expressing the need for northbound and southbound bus lanes between Wood Street and Meadway.

I have had complaints about buses being parked on the southbound double yellows outside Tesco’s and in the northbound layby, overflowing with ‘resting’ buses, spilling into the traffic lane to create another hazard for motorists. 

But now our Labour council, in conjunction with Transport for London (TfL) and their discretionary Bus Priority programme, look set to install bus lanes around Barnet.

The current proposals for bus lane additions include:

  • A1000 Barnet High Street (Wood Street to Meadway)
  • A1000 High Road (Whetstone & North Finchley) between A109 Oakleigh Road and Ravensdale Avenue
  • Ballards Lane approach to North Finchley
  • Regents Park Road
  • Bus Lane enhancements on the A5

The stated aim is to improve bus journey times, which is ironic in the extreme, as in High Barnet it is frequently the buses that block the traffic flow.

Whether it’s the five northbound buses (234, 326, 383, 384 and 389) alighting passengers just before St John’s Church, then crossing to the outside lane and attempting to squeeze between the traffic to head down the high street, or the 34 bus alighting passenger just before Barnet and Southgate College, then doing a U-turn to head south, they contribute significantly to the congestion.

Discussions with TfL have been held and solutions proposed over the years regarding congestion issues and impact of buses on local traffic. Nobody wants to stop the buses, the aim is to improve the general traffic flow.

TfL has never been genuinely interested in listening to the local residents and exploring potential solutions to make the changes that local residents want. Every response amounted to ‘we can’t afford the £250k it will cost to implement’. Every TfL solution always seemed to cost £250k! 

In all the documentation I’ve read thus far on these new proposals, there is no reference or consideration for local businesses or motorists. No consideration has been given to the issues of turning right heading south or right heading north.

Any incident that affects traffic in the area will lead to far worse hold-ups for all buses and motorists in all directions. And let’s not forget the fines for being caught in the bus lane at the wrong time. 

Rather than imposing bus lanes, I suggest the Labour council and TfL put their energy and our money into fixing the potholes and sunken drains on the A1000.

Should there be any money left over they can fix the gradually disintegrating Barnet Hill.

David Longstaff (Conservative) is one of 3 councillors representing Barnet Vale ward, along with Richard Barnes and Marianne Haylett (both Labour).

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