The controversial bus lane on one of London’s key motorway routes will be scrapped later this year, the government confirmed this week.
The restrictions on the use of the 5.6km bus lane on the M4, which operates on the London-bound carriageway from near Heathrow Airport, will be lifted from 24 December. Work to remove the lane will start from November and has been reported as costing up to £400,000.
Transport secretary Philip Hammond said that the lane will then be open to all traffic until June 2012. At that time it will become part of the Olympic Route Network for the London Games, providing athletes with dedicated links between London and Heathrow. After this, the government’s intention is to remove it permanently.
Currently, the lane can only be used by buses, licensed black taxis and motorcycles but Hammond said analysis showed that journey times at peak periods would be reduced for car drivers and hauliers by removing the lane, without significantly affecting vehicles currently using it.
It gained notoriety soon after it opened in 1999 when then prime minister Tony Blair used it to avoid the M4’s lengthy queues. In 2009 it was revealed that the lane restrictions were hardly being enforced, when the Metropolitan Police admitted that there were no dedicated cameras.