A consultation on proposals to introduce six trial traffic filters in Oxford will start on 5 September.
Traffic filters are part of Oxfordshire County Council’s central Oxfordshire travel plan and are designed to reduce traffic, make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer. The scheme will be enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras.
When they are operating, private cars will not be allowed through the traffic filters without a permit. All other vehicles including buses, coaches, taxis, vans, mopeds and HGVs will be allowed at all times. Permits will be available for blue badge holders, health workers and professional and non professional care workers.
Residents in Oxford and some areas just outside the city will be able to apply for a permit to drive through the traffic filters for up to 100 days per year, said the council.
The consultation on the trial proposed will run for four weeks until 3 October 2022. If approved by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet, the trial will start as an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) in summer 2023 for a minimum of six months. The ETRO will allow Oxfordshire County Council to test the scheme and make any changes if needed. A second consultation will run alongside the trial period where people can submit their feedback based on their experience of the traffic filters.
Four traffic filters will be located on St Cross Road, Thames Street, St Clements and Hythe Bridge Street and will operate seven days a week from 7am to 7pm. The remaining filters will be located on Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way and will not operate on Sundays.
Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, Oxford City Council, said: “The traffic filters aim to allow buses and taxis to flow more freely, and will reduce the number of cars on the roads making it safer and more pleasant for people travelling by bike or walking.
“We are not saying that people need to give up cars completely, and permits will be available to local residents and businesses. We want to achieve a better transport mix which improves our air quality, encourages active travel, and ensures all those that do not have access to a car have a better bus service. We want to help everyone to travel safely and on time. Let’s get Oxford moving.”
Councillor Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy, said: “Traffic filters are an important part of the central Oxfordshire travel plan, which aims to reduce the need to travel in private cars and make walking, cycling and public transport the natural first choice.”
“Currently traffic congestion is delaying bus journeys. Cycling is becoming less attractive due to traffic levels. People traveling by taxis get stuck in jams – a costly situation for both passengers and taxi firms.
“Traffic filters will help us achieve a sustainable transport system. Such a system can play a leading role in improving air quality, providing better connectivity particularly for buses, pedestrians and cyclists, and improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. We are committed to listening to you as we make our transport system fit for purpose.”
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “We all want bus services to continue to get better as they can make excellent use of limited road space. The proposed traffic filters will make our buses faster, bus operators will be able to introduce new bus services and electric buses, and essential journeys will be faster.
“This is just the start of the conversation. If implemented, the traffic filters will be introduced under an experimental traffic regulation order during summer next year. This means that we will have six months to see how they work, monitor their impact and make any changes, if necessary, before making decisions about the long-term future of the scheme.”
The county council and city council have been in conversation with partners including bus companies, hospitals, schools and universities about the plans since February 2022.