A frustrated pensioner has claimed it is sometimes easier to drive into Northampton than to use his free bus pass following an influx of traffic surrounding the bus station.
Peter Munton, of East Hunsbury, caught the number nine bus on Friday, December 23... but what should have been a 20-minute journey back to his house, took nearly two hours.
Mr Munton is making calls for the installation of enforcement cameras in the Drapery to take pictures of vehicles, which wrongly use the road designated for buses, as he believes these rogue drivers help to cause gridlock roads.
He said: "On that day I got on the East Hunsbury bus from the Chinese restaurant, before the box junction. It took one hour and 35 minutes to get from to the bus station and down to the Drapery.
"It's easier to drive in [to town] some days, but I only drive in if I'm going somewhere else."
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.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “The town centre was brought to a standstill by extremely heavy traffic late on the afternoon of December 23, which was nationally, one of the busiest days on the roads. This was a combination of Christmas shoppers, and workers leaving for the Christmas break and the bus station and Mayorhold and Grosvenor Centre car park were all affected by the traffic."
Back in November, sources told the Chron that 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.
Councillor Nunn added: “Use of our car parks has significantly increased and we are aware of other occasions where traffic in and around the town centre has been congested. While we do not have responsibility for the highways network, we are responsible for the bus station and car parks and the town centre area and we understand how frustrating delays can be. We are also totally committed to doing everything possible to make the town run well.
“Last week we held urgent talks with Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Police to discuss ways that might improve the flow of traffic in the town centre. This is in the early stages and we will be meeting again very soon to put plans in place that balance costs with convenience to visitors and respecting the heritage of the town.”