The Brighton Station taxi rank is set to move to Terminus Road for an 18-month trial in a bid to stop queuing taxis disrupting buses, pedestrians and clogging up nearby streets.
Terminus Road was used as a temporary taxi rank while the station forecourt was revamped earlier this year, and taxi bosses and Brighton and Hove Buses say they would like the move to become permanent.
But any scheme would have to address concerns over the impact on surrounding streets, and so the trial would incorporate road changes such as reversing the one-way flow on Clifton Street and closing part of Buckingham Place to general traffic.
The plans will go before next Tuesday’s environment, transport and sustainability committee. Its chair Gill Mitchell said: “The area to the front of the station has been much improved but the problems of bus and taxi congestion still remain and at busy times can be dangerous for pedestrians.
“We are proposing a serious trial with measures put in place from the start to protect residential streets in the West Hill area that experienced extra traffic during the previous, informal arrangements. Residents will be notified prior to the start of the trial and consulted on how it is working.
“If the trial goes ahead we will continue to monitor the area closely and the issue will come back to the committee again for a final decision on the location of the rank.”
The report says the current situation is not ideal not just because of the disruption to buses and pedestrians, but because it spoils the improvements to the station forecourt, and the station has now increased the times the rank is closed.
During these times, and peak times, unofficial queues build in Surrey Street, disrupting residents with fumes and tooting horns.
During the temporary Terminus Road rank, the noise in Surrey Street decreased, traffic monitoring showed reduced traffic in the area and reduced strain on the Clock Tower junction, and bus reliability improved.
In March, when the rank was still in Terminus Road, Brighton Buses managing director Martin Harris blogged: “This 21st century return to the old ways has worked far better than we had expected.
“The crucial thing is that it’s removed through traffic from across the front of the station, making things much safer and less congested for bus users, cyclists and pedestrians. As far as I know, the taxis liked it too, as it avoided the ‘taxi gridlock’ that happens around the station at peak times.
“No through traffic through Queens Road also has benefits down at the Clock Tower for pedestrians, cyclists, buses and taxis, improving the capacity of that difficult crucial junction for all of us.
“So if it works for the city’s taxis around the station, chances are it’s going to work for all of us. And I’m going to be backing the idea that a rank up Terminus Road becomes a permanent fixture. Will you join me?”
If the rank is moved, then Southern could use the space currently occupied by the rank for “commercial opportunities” although it’s not specified whether these would be stalls or new permanent shops.
The surrounding road changes include:
- The one-way flow on Clifton Street is reversed to prevent its use as a shortcut from Terminus Road to Upper Gloucester Road.
- Buckingham Place is closed to all non-bus and taxi traffic between the two sections of Bath Street. This will have the effect of diverting through traffic at Seven Dials on to Montpelier Road, Dyke Road or towards Preston Circus rather than through West Hill. Access to the area will still be possible via Bath Street or Dyke Road.
- Minor works to the boarding area at the southern end of Terminus Road to ensure that passengers can be safely boarded into multiple taxis simultaneously.