THE future of the “waste of time” A4 bus lane has been questioned as a cash-drained council withdraws funding for certain routes.

Slough Borough Council is proposing to stop its bus subsidy for services 4, 5, and 6 to save £160,000 as it needs to find savings worth about £22.4m for the 2023/24 budget.

This will mean the local authority will not renew its support for those bus services when the contracts end in March 2023.

At a joint place scrutiny and customer and community scrutiny panel, infrastructure lead Savio DeCruz explained the four will continue its evening service, the six won’t operate on Sundays or public holidays, and the five will continue but with a reduced route.

However, there are ongoing negotiations with the bus operators as well as Heathrow Airport to maintain the services and fill that blackhole the council left in order to help airport workers, who rely on public transport, get to work.

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However, a critic of the A4 bus lane, Cllr Gurdeep Grewal (Lab: Upton) said at the meeting on Wednesday, December 7, that the £200,000 controversial scheme was a “waste of time” if fewer buses are going to use it.

The permanent bus lane between Dover Road and Uxbridge Road junctions was introduced in 2020 to an uproar of outrage that it caused gridlock traffic. Council bosses previously said this is to create a “modal shift” for people to stop using private vehicles for short journeys and take up public transport.

Slough Observer: A4 bus lane from Dover RoadA4 bus lane from Dover Road (Image: Google Maps)

Cllr Grewal said: “The bus lane was probably just a waste of time in trying to implement it considering we are cutting our bus services now; we haven’t managed to increase usage of the buses; car uses are increasing; and pollution is increasing.

“So, is there any need for a bus lane anymore?”

Mr DeCruz maintained the council’s stance that it was “the right thing to do” as they still need to create a “modal shift” for people to use public transport or other modes.

He also said bus operators are struggling and need more local authorities to subsidise bus routes as take-up has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

READ MORE: Slough Council fines thousands of motorists caught in A4 bus lane

Councillors heard if the buses continue to decline to the point operators withdraw routes, then the council will reconsider the A4 and other bus lanes’ future. There are also plans in the works to implement a £10.5m cycle superhighway along the A4 and a report will come to cabinet early next year.

However, defending the A4 bus lane, ex-bus driver Cllr Preston Brooker (Lab: Langley Kedermister) said: “The goal of the bus lane is to improve the economy of bus operators by speeding their journeys through the traffic, so it cuts their costs, keeps fares down, and improves reliability.

“I am afraid I must disagree. I actually support bus lanes and I think we need more.”