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YORK’S Clarence Street could be widened to reduce congestion and improve conditions for buses – but plans for bus lanes may now be dropped, at least for the time being.

City of York Council officers have recommended that original proposals for bus lanes, a bus gate and signals should be deferred until a decision is made on the future of Lendal Bridge.

A report to be considered next week by Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for transport, said journey times for services using Clarence Street during the trial closure of the bridge to cars had been significantly reduced.

In a written report, Julian Ridge, a council transport programme manager, said: “While the bridge restriction is in place, there appears to be a weaker case for the bus lane, as much of the daytime benefit is being realised by other means.

“There is, however, a rationale for progressing the associated junction improvements as they improve the situation for other road users by making it easier for them to turn left into Lord Mayor’s Walk.”

The authority now looks set set to go out to public consultation on proposals to widen the street, particularly near the junction with Lord Mayor’s Walk.

A council spokeswoman said: “The scheme will be funded by £250,000, supported through part of the £3.5 million Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF) awarded to the council from the Department of Transport in 2012.”

“If approved, the improvements will help three of York’s five most frequent bus services (routes 1, 5 and 6) which all use Clarence Street and experience delays on Clarence Street, Gillygate and St Leonards Place/Lendal Bridge – but only when access to the bridge is not restricted.

“Data issued during the Lendal Bridge trial indicate that delays are now significantly reduced between 10.30am and 5pm.”

Coun Merrett, cabinet member for transport, said the authority’s aim was to encourage even more people to travel by bus and increase passenger numbers by 18 per cent by 2015, but the widening should benefit all users on the very tight Clarence Street approach to the Lord Mayor’s Walk junction.