JOURNEY times on seven of York’s ten Park&Ride routes have increased as the Lendal Bridge traffic trial continues – but traffic chiefs have claimed buses may actually be travelling faster than before the restrictions began.

Figures for the fifth month of the City of York Council experiment – which has banned private vehicles from the bridge for six-and-a-half hours a day – have also shown that, of nine major roads around the city, seven were busier in January than in the same month a year before.

Meanwhile, 5,436 fines were issued between December 29 and January 26, taking the total number of penalty charge notices handed out since the trial began to 46,230.

Studies of York’s five inbound and five outbound Park&Ride routes showed travel times had only improved on three journeys, from the centre of York to Rawcliffe Bar and both ways on the Askham Bar service.

A report by transport officials said none of the increases was “significant” and suggested Park&Ride schedules could be the main reason for hold-ups.

It said service timetables meant buses had to arrive at or leave destinations at set times, meaning overall journey times “may mask improvements” in the time spent travelling between stops.

The report also warned: “Unless the trial is made permanent and the scheduling of the buses is altered, it is not possible for the buses to take full advantage of the time savings being generated.”

Critics of the trial – which the council said would speed up bus times – have claimed it has not improved bus performance and there has been a lack of information from bus operators about its impact.

The six-month scheme started on August 27, but the restrictions will remain beyond the end of February while its performance is assessed and a decision taken on whether to make it permanent, abandon it or extend its hours.

The report said Foss Islands Road and Water End, at Clifton Bridge, were still seeing the largest increases in traffic, while volumes also rose in January on the Outer Ring Road’s bridge over the River Ouse and on Fulford Road and Shipton Road. Boroughbridge Road had the largest fall in traffic levels last month.