A PLAN to build a bus lane to improve public transport on the A325 in Farnborough has been condemned because of fears it will lead to traffic chaos.

The 24-hour bus lane would run at points between Boundary Road and Hawley Lane as part of a wider scheme to get more people on buses.

Funded and run by Hampshire County Council, Surrey County Council and Stagecoach, the first stage is due for completion in the autumn.

Work on the lane outside the Rushmoor Council offices (pictured) began in November.

Cllr Michael Smith told the environment policy and review panel the changes would have dire consequences for the town.

“We are going to have deadlock. We will have traffic queues going right the way back for miles. We’re going to be doubling up on empty buses. Nobody is going to be on a bus at two, three, four or five in the morning.”

He also said residents living on the A325 were angry because their objections were not listened to.

Jim Pettitt, Rushmoor’s head of highway and transport services, said Hampshire County Council intended the bus lane restrictions to apply at all times.

“It’s to give the bus route 1 priority over other traffic at junctions and traffic lights which get busy during the rush hour, to improve the flow of traffic.”

He said taxi drivers felt they should be able to use the lane too, adding: “If there’s a facility there then I believe we should make best use of it by letting others use it.”

He said the matter would be raised at the North-East Hampshire Transportation Strategy meeting this week.

Mike Kirk, chairman of Rushmoor Taxis, said the bus lane would have a knock-on effect on taxi fares.

“We are worried that we are going to be stuck in traffic when the lane opens up. The waiting time in taxis has already gone up since the work on the A325 started. It can cost two to three pounds more for 15 minutes in a traffic jam.”

He said it was unfair for buses to have their own lane when taxis played a key part in providing public transport as many disabled and elderly people used them regularly.

Hampshire County Council spokesman Andrew Wilson explained why it had opted for a 24-hour restriction.

“You can put in signs to restrict it between eight and ten and four and seven but many motorists find these confusing.

“We will however review this regularly and if things can be improved we will make changes if necessary.”

He denied Farnborough people had not been consulted adequately, saying a four-day exhibition in Princes Mead had shown the public to generally favour the scheme.

He said the bus priority route would run from Yateley through Farnborough and Aldershot to Farnham.