Cauldwell Councillors on behalf of Bedford Borough Labour Group are writing to express our deep concern and opposition to the proposed changes to the Ampthill Road bus lane.
These changes would ban taxi and private hire drivers from using the bus lane unless they are driving an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV).
As councillors, we are committed to protecting the interests of all residents in Cauldwell ward and throughout Bedford Borough. In principle we as ward we councillors support the ULEV bus lanes due to the long-term benefits for the environment, but we also believe that these proposed changes to the bus lane are premature and would have a number of negative consequences, including:
- Devastating the taxi and private hire trade financially during a cost of living crisis.
- Extending journey times for taxi and private hire passengers, including those who need to rely on these services for essential travel, such as hospital appointments.
- Increasing the cost of taxi and private hire fares, which would disproportionately impact people on low incomes.
- Leading to job losses in the taxi and private hire trade.
This proposal is unfair and discriminatory and would impact taxi and private hire drivers, who are already facing significant financial difficulties due to the cost of living crisis.
Many taxi and private hire drivers simply cannot afford to purchase an ultra-low emission vehicle, and this proposal would force them out of business. This is certainly the feedback we have received in our conversations with the industry.
If this premise is accepted then the result will simply be more taxi and private hire drivers sitting in traffic whilst their vehicles emit greenhouse gases.
This would add to Bedford’s carbon footprint and have the opposite effect than intended by the proposals. The ban on taxi and private hire drivers using the bus lane would likely lead to an increase in traffic congestion on other roads in Bedford Borough.
This would worsen air quality and make it more difficult for people to walk and cycle safely.
We have therefore written directly to the newly elected Mayor asking him to listen to the trade who are raising very real concerns about the consequences of the proposed change and are worried about their future.
He should reconsider this proposal and scrap the plans to prohibit taxi and private hire drivers from using bus lanes be it Ampthill Road or indeed any other road.
Some bus lanes, including the Ampthill Road one, sadly now only serve very few buses. We believe that these proposed changes would be harmful to the residents of Bedford Borough and would not be in the best interests of our community.
We have asked the Mayor for a response that we can share with concerned constituents at his earliest convenience and for our comments to be recorded formally as a consultation response.
Cllr Abu Sultan
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