Public consultation launches into plans to shave minutes off a bus trip by narrowing a city centre road in Exeter

Planners have launched a public consultation in a bid to narrow a section of Exeter city centre road they say will shave minutes off a bus journey.

A new ‘bus gate’ could be installed outside Exeter’s John Lewis, allowing buses to travel both ways, writes local democracy reporter, Ollie Heptinstall.

Devon County Council is running a consultation on its plan for a contraflow bus lane on the one-way section of New North Road between Longbrook Street and Sidwell Street, in Exeter.

It wants to slightly narrow the existing northbound one-way traffic lane and widen the contraflow cycle lane so it can be used by buses as well.

The public consultation will be open until Monday, August 14. If the plans are approved, work should start by March 2024.


Shown here, from the consultation, is the existing and proposed bus routes.
Image DCC.

It is part of the council’s planned improvements to bus services across the county using money from the government for its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

Last year Devon received £14 million for bus improvements from Whitehall, less than half the amount it originally bid for.

The ‘bus gate’ will shorten journeys for buses travelling from Cowley Bridge roundabout to Exeter Bus Station. The council says it will save around 2.5 minutes between New North Road and Cheeke Street.

It will also enable passengers to get off buses on Sidwell Street and reduce the number of services travelling on Longbrook Street and York Road, which it hopes will improve air quality for residents and the local primary school.

To distinguish it from the one-way traffic lane used by all motor vehicles, the surfacing of the bus gate will have a block effect pattern.

Councillor Andrea Davis (Conservative, Combe Martin Rural), Devon’s cabinet member for transport, said: “We want to make it much easier for bus passengers to get to where they need to go and these proposals will support much quicker and more reliable journey times through this area of the city centre.”

Councillor Su Aves, (Labour, St Sidwell’s and St James) added: “Families, whose children walk to St Sidwell’s C of E school, and local residents, have often raised concerns over air pollution levels along York Road. Devon County Council at last has a proposal to help.

“The aim is for this to improve the punctuality of buses, reduce air pollution and reduce congestion, while also improving Longbrook Street and York Road for local residents, pedestrians and cyclists.”

  • See here for the public consultation details and proposal.

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