CONTROVERSIAL new trial bus lanes have officially gone live in Chester.

The new lanes on the A51 Boughton and the A5116 Liverpool Road were activated on the morning of Monday, October 5, officially for the first time.

There was confusion and delay when the lanes were first painted in August without signage informing motorists the lanes had yet to go 'live', causing city centre traffic jams.

Chester and District Standard:

Cheshire West and Chester Council apologised and 'paused' the roll-out of the bus lanes amid a backlash from residents, motorists and local businesses.

But now the trial bus lanes are in operation, with signage telling motorists: "Important update: Cycle/bus lane use commences Mon 5th Oct. We are still listening."

Chester and District Standard:

Cameras have been installed along the roads to monitor how the traffic will flow over the coming days and weeks to assess the impact of the scheme.

The restricted lanes are for buses, bikes, taxis and authorised vehicles. It will also be permissible for motorists needing to load and/or unload their vehicle for up to 10 minutes.

They are not ANPR cameras designed to catch out motorists breaking the law, unlike other bus lanes around the city, which caught out about 10,000 motorists in their first year of operation.

The Standard observed that, during the first rush-hour of operation on Monday, traffic was busy in Boughton without too much congestion, and the vast majority of drivers were adhering to the new system.

Chester and District Standard:

It comes as part of the Government’s ‘Gear Change’ vision, calling for a ramping up of active travel.

Councils have been told to re-allocate road space for significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, with some streets becoming bus and bike only. CWaC was handed £161,000 from the Department for Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund to implement new measures.

Chester and District Standard:

Speaking before the bus lanes were activated, Councillor Karen Shore, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, said: “The new active travel lanes are in place to address massive challenges including improving air quality, combatting climate change and improving health and wellbeing.

“There is no easy answer, the issues we are facing require a step change in cycling, walking and public transport. This is very much an experimental process, and we will continue to listen and learn. We will be monitoring both roads carefully. The scheme can be changed and adapted at every stage.”

As well as the new bus lanes, the Park and Ride scheme is now half price for all fares in Chester, while free travel will be provided for NHS employees travelling to the Countess of Chester Hospital from the Upton Park and Ride site (by showing their ID badge).

Chester and District Standard:

The council is also establishing a Sustainable Transport Taskforce to consider what the opportunities and barriers may be to deliver ambitious inclusive walking, cycling and public transport projects and what can be done to secure positive outcomes.

These dates are subject to any future announcements from the Government in relation to Covid-19 and may therefore be changed at short notice.

To have your say on the new routes, email