TOUGHER measures are to be put in place to cut congestion on one of York’s busiest city-centre roads and make it easier for buses and taxis to travel through the city.

The new controls in Coppergate will see automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) cameras being installed next year as North Yorkshire Police and City of York Council take on joint responsibility for enforcement action.

Cars will be prevented from using Coppergate between 7am and 7pm, when it will be reserved for buses, taxis and cyclists – it is currently reserved between 8am and 6pm.

Other vehicles will be allowed to use the route for loading and unloading from 10am – an hour later than the current start-time – until 4pm.

Restrictions have been in place on Coppergate since the 1960s, but only enforced infrequently.

The new cameras will operate from April 1 after more than 600 motorists illegally used Coppergate during a day of enforcement action last year.

Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for transport, planning and sustainability, said: “By reducing the volume of illicit vehicles during the day and restricting loading and unloading during the peak commuter and congestion hours, we will help buses, taxis and cyclists get through this extremely narrow road more easily.

“This will improve public transport journey times and reliability and address frequently-raised concerns about the punctuality of buses in the mornings.”

Frank Wood, chairman of the York Retail Forum, said: “This is a narrow road and an important bus route.

“It is also important to keep pedestrian areas clear and safe, to allow freedom of access for visitors.

“There are already regulations in force to restrict traffic and the method of enforcing these regulations needs to be effective and sustainable and I am happy to support the move towards ANPR cameras.”

Inspector Mark Henderson, of North Yorkshire Police, said “numerous” enforcement operations in Coppergate and issuing hundreds of fines had made “no noticeable difference”, making the new measures necessary.

John Carr, chairman of York’s Quality Bus Partnership, said they would “help achieve the more reliable cross-city services everybody wants to see”.

A two-week grace period will be in place from Monday, March 18.