Taxis and private hire cars have been able to use the inbound bus lane for King’s Road for over a decade which has helped drivers get into the town centre.
But while black cab drivers are allowed to use the outbound bus lane in King’s Road alongside buses to get towards Cemetery Junction and the A329M, private hire drivers have not been afforded the same privilege.
That has led a group of private hire drivers in the Reading Private Hire Association (RPHA) to lobby the council to have access to the outbound Kings Raoad bus lane.
The group’s proposal was discussed at a meeting of the council’s traffic management sub-committee.
Kamran Saddiq said: “To be honest, we feel hard done by when we go to other boroughs and we are not able to use their bus lanes due to their jurisdictions which we are not allowed to use because we are not from their boroughs.
“So I don’t see why it’s fair that we are actually employed, we work for Reading Borough Council, we pay our licence and badge application fees here, that we are being deprived from the services we have been working tirelessly day and night to provide.”
Buses and taxis have been able to use the inbound bus lane for over a decade. In 2019, use of the lane was restricted to bus drivers, and only those cab and private hire drivers who are licensed with Reading Borough Council.
The change was introduced to speed up journey times by limiting which taxis could access the bus lane.
Mr Saddiq said: “It’s been three years and the volume of traffic has decreased by a major amount.
“There’s not been one single accident recorded from the private hire drivers in that bus lane.”
Asif Rashid, chairman of the Reading Taxi Association also spoke at the meeting, suggesting that the council needs to look into enforcement measures to ensure that rule-breaking taxi drivers from outside the area are punished.
Meanwhile Mr Saddiq also proposed dropping the speed limit in King’s Road near Reading College to 20mph to improve safety.
John Ennis (Labour, Southcote), lead councillor for transport, thanked Mr Saddiq and the RPHA for their “good work” and said they have been “extremely responsible” in working with the council since the group was founded in December 2022.
Cllr Ennis then introduced a proposal for an informal consultation to be launched into allowing Reading private hire drivers to use the outbound bus lane, rather than a statutory consultation which was recommended by the council’s highways officers.
He said he would have liked for the results of the consultation to come back in November, but was advised that the consultation would have to be reported in January instead to ensure it is properly undertaken.
Cllr Rob White (Green, Park), the leader of the opposition, voiced support for private hire drivers to use the outbound bus lane, and echoed Mr Saddiq’s concerns about road safety.
Cllr White cited Crash Map UK data showing approximately 25 slight crashes, eight serious crashes, and a fatal crash in King’s Road on May 17, 2018.
He suggested an amendment that would have set up a councillor working group to investigate safety on King’s Road, but that was voted down by committee members.
Opposition councillors James Moore (Liberal Democrats, Tilehurst) and Stephen Goss (Conservative, Emmer Green) both agreed that there should be ‘consistency.’
Cllr Ennis’ amended motion to launch a statutory consultation was agreed unanimously by the traffic management sub-committee on Wednesday, September 13.
Mr Saddiq was pleased with the action and thanked councillors for their understanding.