Consultation begins on Monday, (September 5) over radical plans to reduce cars in Oxford by installing traffic filters.

Six trial filters, often referred to as bus gates, give buses priority to enter the city and limit the numbers of cars and other vehicles. They are also intended to make the roads safer for pedestrian and cyclists.

Once in operation, private cars will not be allowed through the filters without a permit. All other vehicles including buses, coaches, taxis, vans, mopeds and HGVs will be allowed at all times. Permits will be available for blue badge holders, health workers and care workers.

The scheme will be enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras.

Residents in Oxford and some areas just outside the city will be able to apply for a permit to drive through the traffic filters for up to 100 days per year.

If approved by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet, the trial will start as an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) in Summer 2023 for a minimum of six months.

A second consultation will run alongside the trial period where people can submit their feedback based on their experience of the traffic filters.

Four traffic filters will be at St Cross Road, Thames Street, St Clements and Hythe Bridge Street and will operate seven days a week from 7am to 7pm. The remaining filters will be in Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way and will not operate on Sundays.

Cllr Louise Upton, Oxford City Council cabinet member for health and transport, said: “The traffic filters aim to allow buses and taxis to flow more freely, and will reduce the number of cars on the roads making it safer and more pleasant for people travelling by bike or walking.

“We are not saying that people need to give up cars completely and permits will be available to local residents and businesses. We want to achieve a better transport mix which improves our air quality, encourages active travel, and ensures all those that do not have access to a car have a better bus service. We want to help everyone to travel safely and on time. Let’s get Oxford moving.”

Cllr Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said: “Traffic filters are an important part of the central Oxfordshire travel plan, which aims to reduce the need to travel in private cars and make walking, cycling and public transport the natural first choice.

“Currently traffic congestion is delaying bus journeys. Cycling is becoming less attractive due to traffic levels. People traveling by taxis get stuck in jams – a costly situation for both passengers and taxi firms.

“Traffic filters will help us achieve a sustainable transport system. Such a system can play a leading role in improving air quality, providing better connectivity particularly for buses, pedestrians and cyclists, and improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. We are committed to listening to you as we make our transport system fit for purpose.”

The two councils are hosting public events which are open to all but registration is necessary:

  • In person at Wesley Memorial Hall: Tuesday, September 6, 5pm – 6.30pm.
  • Online: Thursday September 8, 6pm – 7.30pm.


The consultation will run until October 3.

Image: Chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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