Transport Minister Norman Baker backs congestion-busting bus lanes on A65

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£21 million improvements to one of Leeds’s most congested commuter roads were given the seal of approval by Transport Minister Norman Baker yesterday.

The improved A65 in Leeds was officially opened, marking the completion of the scheme, which transport chiefs hope will deliver a range of benefits to bus users, cyclists and pedestrians.

Baker visited Leeds to see the improvements for himself, travelling on a new low emissions bus from the city centre to Kirkstall lights and then back to the Willow Road junction, where he unveiled a commemorative plaque.

The A65 improvements include:

  • 4km of new dedicated bus lane covering inbound and outbound journeys
  • 11 new passenger shelters with real time travel information
  • Provision for cyclists to use the new lane and enjoy a safer and easier ride
  • New buses from the London 2012 Olympics, with low level access (arriving in October)

With over 45,000 vehicles travelling along it each day, the A65 was at maximum capacity. Without intervention congestion was set to worsen, with heavy traffic extending beyond peak travel periods.

The improvements to the A65 between Kirkstall Lane and the Inner Ring Road should help ease congestion and make journeys to and from the city centre quicker and easier, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for the economy and development said:

“The A65 Quality Bus Scheme is undoubtedly one of the most significant transport improvements in Leeds in recent years. It will provide a massive boost to our transport system, vastly improving bus journey times and reducing congestion around the city centre.

“It will make a positive difference to commuter traffic coming in and out of the city centre along one of our most congested routes.”

Local transport minister Norman Baker said:

“It is great to be in Leeds to see the completion of this congestion-busting scheme which will transform travel on the A65 and help to boost growth in the city.

“The project will deliver more reliable journeys and attractive, state-of-the-art bus facilities – it is a win-win for local residents, commuters and businesses. I am also pleased that Leeds have managed to bring the scheme in on budget.

“Investment in important schemes like this across the country demonstrates the Coalition Government’s commitment to making sure that the infrastructure is in place for the economy to grow both regionally and nationally, while also cutting carbon by encouraging greater bus use.”

Giles Fearnley, First UK Bus managing director, said First was investing £20m to replace a quarter of its Leeds’ fleet with 98 new low emission buses.  He added: “These will be in service in the next four weeks on services across Leeds, including those operating along the A65. We are confident that the combination of more reliable journeys and new, modern buses will attract even more passengers.”

John Baron

ohn Baron has worked in a variety of roles for local newspapers since starting his career as a trainee reporter at the Leeds Weekly News in 1994. He has also worked for Wharfedale Newspapers in Ilkley, the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group in Wakefield and was previously a trainer for Johnston Press. In 2010 he was beatblogger for the Guardian's experimental and hugely successful Leeds blog and since contributed to and helped develop www.southleedslife.com as well as contributing to the City Talking since its launch last year.