Car drivers causing chaos by ignoring Drapery traffic restrictions, claims bus driver

Chaos on the Drapery. Picture by @nnweather
Chaos on the Drapery. Picture by @nnweather
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Calls are being made to put enforcement cameras in The Drapery in Northampton after bus drivers told the Chron cars are flouting the restrictions so often it is causing regular gridlock.

Regular road users are not allowed to drive down The Drapery and loading is not permitted between the hours of 10am, and 4pm to allow buses to flow smoothly along the street and to decrease the amount of traffic around North Gate bus station.

But last week the station was gridlocked at rush hour almost every night of the week. Now, there are calls for the restrictions to be extended.

One bus driver, who did not wish to be named, said backlogs were still being created regularly by cars driving along The Drapery illegally, because the restrictions are not being enforced.

“What happens is the cars come down here and buses can’t keep a nice steady pace,” the bus driver said.

“They park by McDonald’s and if a car blocks one of the bus stops it backs up all the way through the lights and onto Sheep Street.

“If you were to stand there for five minutes you would probably count 15 cars every five minutes.

“Instead of just looking out for buses and pedestrians - all the time you are looking out for cars as well.”

The bus driver believes people are flouting the rules increasingly more because the driving restrictions are not being enforced.

Numberplate recognition technology is regularly used by councils around the country to prevent drivers from straying into bus lanes. The automated system then sends out fines to the culprits.

The bus drivers the Chron spoke to all felt this should be installed along The Drapery. Better signage and a police presence on the road would also help ease matters, they said.

“They could try it for three weeks and see how smooth it runs,” said the bus driver the Chron made contact with.

“Coming up to Christmas it’s going to be chaos every night.”

Sources said the regular jams around North Gate are also taking their toll on the drivers, some of whom are having to wait in queues along The Drapery for 90 minutes or more.

The problem is exacerbated by motorists leaving the nearby Mayorhold car park at around 5pm.

“They (bus drivers) are working over their driving hours, over their working day because of the queues,” the driver said. “And it is happening every night now.”

Northamptonshire County Council says it would have to look into the cost of fitting a number plate recognition camera.

A spokesman said: “Vehicle access to The Drapery, Northampton, is prohibited to vehicles with the exception of buses and taxis, with any enforcement carried out by the police.

“Any unauthorised parking in The Drapery is a civil offence, with enforcement carried out by the county council. Patrols take place regularly and penalty charge notices are issued as appropriate.

“Cameras have been used elsewhere in the UK to enforce illegal use of bus lanes but like implementing any scheme – this would need to be considered against budgets available.”

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