Southampton bus lane access consultation confirmed

Southampton City Council has launched a second consultation to determine new bus lane access restrictions intended to help improve air quality in the city.

The proposed changes to the bus lane access will impact any taxi and PHVs not licensed with Southampton City Council. The changes will mean that taxis and PHVs licensed outside of Southampton will only be allowed access to bus lanes during peak times, and only if the vehicle was first registered on or after January 2006 if petrol and September 2015 if diesel. These registration dates reflect the introduction of cleaner euro emission standard. Peak times are weekdays between 7 - 9.30am and 4 - 6.30pm.

Current access to taxis and PHVs licensed by Southampton City Council will remain unchanged. 

This consultation is part of the council’s commitment to delivering clean air by reducing traffic-based emissions. As part of the non-charging Clean Air Zone, measures directed specifically to the local taxi trade are being introduced to support cleaner vehicles. Initiatives introduced include the provision of two taxi-only rapid chargers that are currently free to use, and a grant scheme to support the switch to lower emission vehicles. In addition, new emission standards were introduced for vehicles licensed in the city to reduce the number of older, more polluting vehicles. 

The consultation is open for anyone to comment but the council would like to encourage the taxi and PHV trade from Southampton and surrounding area to provide feedback. The consultation runs from Friday 29 January until Monday 22 February. Visit the council website for more information and to provide your feedback on the proposed changes. The council will review all responses before confirming the outcome by April 2021. 

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, added: “We have continued to work with our local taxi and PHV trade in the city to ensure that all of our proposed changes across the city are not detrimental to either their business or ability to operate in Southampton. With 40% of the fleet now a low emission vehicle, we are leading the way in the UK in our Green City approach and we are committed to tackling climate change.”

The first consultation in 2019, related to changes that would only permit Southampton City Council licensed taxis in the city’s bus lanes. A number of concerns were raised from both local firms and operators from surrounding areas. As a result, the council reviewed an alternative approach that would allow taxis licensed outside of Southampton to access our bus lanes provided the vehicle meets the same engines standards as our required by our licensing regime. 

The council is assessing opportunities including bus lane access restrictions to ensure the taxi and PHV licensed by the city are not adversely affected by its aims to have a Clean Air Zone compliant fleet. Local Authorities are responsible for setting taxi and PHV licensing conditions. This results in varying licensing conditions across the country depending on each local authority’s priorities. Southampton City Council has introduced extra licensing conditions on those taxis licensed in the city, this has resulted in many of the local trade upgrading to cleaner, less polluting vehicles. As with any city, taxis and PHVs from surrounding areas operating in Southampton but not subject to these additional conditions as those operated under a Southampton City Council licence. To support Taxi trades licensed by Southampton, the council are implementing various changes, including the bus lane access restrictions, to benefit those who are operating cleaner vehicles in the city.