THE CONSTRUCTION of a new bus lane will soon begin as part of the latest phase of a project aiming to speed up journey times along the busy A33 in Reading.

This fifth stage of the scheme, which Reading Borough Council (RBC) hopes will make bus travel a more attractive option for people in order to help with the climate crisis, began yesterday (Monday, July 27).

The South Reading Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) scheme should eventually accelerate journeys between the centre of Reading and residential and employment areas to the south of the borough.

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Latest works have started, and will include:

  • The construction of a new southbound bus lane from the River Kennet bridge to Kennet Island
  • A new northbound MRT stop at Island Road
  • A new southbound MRT stop at Worton Grange
  • Changes to the MRT lane near Reading International Business Park to focus on getting fast park and ride buses from Mereoak to Reading as easily as possible

As part of the works, the gyratory at Bennet Road will also be re-signalled with an improved traffic control system designed to improve traffic flow.

Works will require lane closures, but these will be kept to off-peak times.

A small number of complete overnight closures will be needed but these will be widely publicised nearer the time. The works are expected to run until March 2021, with a break over the Christmas period.

Councillor Tony Page, RBC's lead member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: "This latest phase of works help continue to speed up bus journeys and journeys for all road users, along the busy A33.

"As previously, it is important to say the improvements are being implemented with no loss of capacity for other road users and works will take place in off-peak hours.

"Before the pandemic hit, we knew that road space in Reading was at capacity.

"Major housing developments planned for the south of Reading will bring even more commuter traffic into the town.

"Offering people realistic, easy and sustainable travel choices is the only option to manage levels of congestion and improve air quality.

"It is also the only way the council can achieve making Reading a net-zero carbon town by 2030, to which we have committed."

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The council hopes the quicker journey times will encourage even more people to use the Mereoak Park and Ride bus as an alternative to the car.

Standard day return, including parking, is £4.50, with multi-ride smartcards bringing the daily cost down to £3.90 per day, or an off-peak carload for £6 Monday – Friday and £5 at evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays.

The success of the Reading Borough Council Greenwave rapid transit bus services is shown by the carriage of nearly 1.2 million passengers in 2019, which is four times amount from 2010.