A number of challenges face public transport in Leeds. Whilst buses moving though the city centre are supported by the bus box around Leeds city centre, they join all of the other traffic and the resulting congestion as they cross the inner ring road. On normal days, this is accommodated by extending the bus timetables in the peak hour, with buses joining the ordinary congestion caused by substantial amounts of general traffic. When major incidents happen on the local motorway and road network, the bus network is adversely affected because of the lack of segregated routes. The road network could and should be designed to mitigate this particularly if ambitions such as doubling bus patronage are to be achieved.
This article focuses on an East-West bus lane across the centre of Leeds. The graphics have been created using Streetmix and all photos have been taken by the author.
We start at the west end of Leeds city centre, focusing on Armley Gyratory.
Canal Street, A647 (westbound)
Buses X6, 72, X11, 14, X14 (up to 18 buses per hour).
Issue – buses are delayed by other vehicles merging into the remaining traffic lane ahead of the bus lane on this section of road.
Temp Works – use cones and signs to extend the bus lane 90 metres forward to the bus stop known as The Albion Inn. This effectively extends the bus lane by around 150 metres using the existing layby and alternative access to the British Gas site.
Permanent works – make the above extension permanent
Permanent works – extend the bus lane so that it commences on Armley Gyratory.
Permanent works – extend the bus lane around the roundabout to the end of the A58 using the lane 1 lane for the A647.
Permanent works – redesign Armley gyratory to create a segregated counter flow bus lane between A58 and A647. This shortens bus journey times by 60-90 seconds as they are not navigating the full gyratory. Buses would be called across the roundabout to the inside of the roundabout.
Leeds Inner Ring Road
Buses X6, X11, X14, 72, 14, 16, 4, 42 (up to 36 buses per hour)
Issue – Large numbers of collisions where vehicles join the westbound A58 Inner ring road. These impact the reliability of services in this area.
Temp works – install temporary lights to stop traffic on the ring road and the slip to improve the safety of traffic merging into this section of road.
Permanent works – make the above change permanent. Potentially install a second set of lights or a yellow box to bring buses out of bus stops at Yorkshire Post site to a prominent position at the front of the queue.
Wellington Street roundabout
Buses mix with other vehicles causing delays to bus services. Potential benefits could also include providing a robust diversion route for buses on Burley Road or Canal Street.
Temp works – convert lane 1 to a bus lane from the existing bus lanes on Kirkstall Road to Wellington Street.
Permanent works – make the above permanent with traffic lights to prioritise buses.
Wellington Street has been split into six sections detailed below.
Buses 15, 42, 4, 16, 16A, 11, 11E, 14, 33, 33A, 508, 670, 757, 760, X11, X14 (39 buses per hour)
Section 1 – Wellington Street roundabout to Wellington Place/Lisbon Street junction
Existing two lanes in each direction changed to one general traffic lane and a continuous bus lane. Cycle facilities bypass bus stops. Cyclists protected at Wellington Place/Lisbon Street junction from left turn swipes by the bus lane getting a priority phase.
I would propose removing the central reservation on this section as part of work to constrain the road environment and lower speeds to 20mph.
Section 2 – Wellington Place/Lisbon Street junction to Queen Street junction
Existing two lanes in each direction changed to one general traffic lane and a continuous bus lane.
The cycle works are expected to change Queen Street north of Wellington Street so that traffic only moves southbound. This will mean that in conjunction with the proposals on section 3, traffic heading east on this section will only be able to turn right on to Northern Street.
Section 3 – Queen Street junction to Thirsk Row
Need to review the layout of this section to manage traffic. Eastbound traffic could be diverted down Northern Street, Whitehall Road East and Thirsk Row. Westbound lane maintained to retain access to the buildings in this area and remove traffic from the centre of the city as quickly as possible.
Section 4 – Thirsk Row to King Street
This would be a challenging area with demand/traffic flows leading on to King Street and a cycle lane. Radical changes would be required to this pinchpoint. It is proposed that this section of road is actively managed using traffic lights and traffic monitoring equipment to relieve congestion.
Section 5 – King Street to City Square
It is suggested that a bus lane is created on the left hand side with all general traffic remaining in the right hand lane. The build out at the end of the bus stops would be removed with general traffic called on to the next section of Wellington Street behind the buses.
Section 6 – City Square
To line buses up for Wellington Street, a bus lane would be set up in lane 2. The space for this would be created by removing the current space that creates a layby outside Queens Hotel. Lower speeds could be encouraged through this section by narrowing the lanes and a raised hump crossing where pedestrian crossings are currently located.
Leeds City Centre bus box
The bus box restricts access to through traffic and prioritises buses.
Call Lane and New York Street
Call Lane is widened at the pedestrian crossing near the Corn Exchange and an eastbound bus lane is created on these two streets. There will be a challenge at the eastern end of this road where the layour could be adjusted to give buses priority.
Harper Street and Briggate
There is a proposal to remove the left turn from Harper Street. As a result, it is proposed that with the removal of a small number of on street car parking spaces, a bus lane can be created on these two roads for westbound buses.
York Street (Bus Station)
Buses 4, 4G, 5, 10, 11, 11E, 15, 16, 16A, 19, 19A, 28, 40, 61, 64, 74, 163, 166, 167, 168, 444, 446, 757, 760, Cityzap
Close York Street to general traffic westbound. Divert this traffic via Kirkgate and Cross York Street. Create two bus lanes with general traffic eastbound in the centre of the road.
York Street (Northern Ballet)
Buses 4, 4G, 5, 11, 16, 16A, 19, 19A, 40, 49, 50, 50A, 56, 64, 163, 166, 840, 843
Close the western section to general traffic eastbound (divert around via Duke Street and Marsh Lane). Add bus lanes. Two options here.
Option one puts bus lanes on either side of the road. This will create difficulty at the eastern end of the road. Option 2 (preferred) creates a two way bus road with a bus stop placed on the central reservation for westbound buses. General traffic will only be able to turn left because York Road outside of the bus station will be closed to general traffic westbound (as per the above comments).
Bus Lane in left hand lane, moving general traffic lanes to the right. Hold eastbound Inner Ring Road A64(M) traffic back to create bus priority to left hand bus lane to under the inner ring road. Create a bus gate and traffic phase so it can access York Road.
Buses would approach in right hand lane having switched on Burmantofts Street. It would hold right taking the existing right hand lane for the bus station on to York Street.
Buses leaving the A64 would have an advanced bus gate that would allow buses to move into lane 3 during the red phase for traffic on the slip road. During periods of heavy traffic where buses cannot cross to lane 3, a green phase for buses would be put into the actual junction.
Buses 4, 4G, 16, 16A, 49, 50, 50A
Add a northbound bus lane.
Extend southbound bus lane to Marsh Lane. Bus gate and traffic lights holding back general traffic would swap bus lane and general traffic lane on approach to the junction.
Buses 16, 16A, 42, 49, 50, 50A, Hospital shuttle
Widen to add bus lanes or create bus road on what I would expect to be the proposed route that a tram route heading towards St James Hospital would follow. Create or enhance the bus turning point.
Ensure that bus gates and bus lanes remain accessible to ambulances helping to boost the benefits of this bus priority.