THE NEW M4 bus lane is a 'tactical measure of virtually insignificant consequence', the AA motoring organisation claimed this week.
Speaking after the opening of the 5.6km lane on the London-bound carriageway of the M4, AA policy director John Dawson claimed it would add to congestion by taking up road space while not doing enough to encourage a switch to public transport.
He added that the need for the bus lane had not been proven, unlike the service currently running on the M4 Heathrow spur.
'We aren't against bus lanes in themselves but we are against piecemeal improvements which don't add up to much. What we need is a more fundamental investment programme and that is going to be expensive,' he said.
The AA has been pressing for a doubling of roads spending over the next three to seven years. It is also calling for more transparency in infrastructure spending and an end to the fuel tax escalator.
The £1.9M lane, billed as 'the first-ever bus lane on a major motorway in England', was opened on Monday by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. It will be run as a pilot scheme and if successful further motorway bus lanes will be constructed around the country.
At peak times the lane is designed to carry 50 buses and 350 taxis an hour and should slice 10 minutes off the journey time of those using public transport.
Prescott claimed it would also help to cut the number of accidents on the road by 20%.