A NEW town centre road layout which has angered Wigan’s private hire drivers means longer journeys and higher fares, they claim.
Wigan Council planners have banned drivers from turning left at the top of King Street onto Wallgate. Motorists can now only follow the road around to the right onto Library Street.
However, buses and Hackney carriages are still able to turn left and continue to travel down Wallgate and King Street West.
The new system means private hire drivers are not permitted to turn left, adding extra mileage and time onto a journey.
Graham Latham, who works for Bluestar, said: “Not many private hire drivers are happy with the new system on Wallgate.
“I’ve have had passengers who have needed to be dropped off at the train stations and instead of being able to cut up King Street to get them there faster, I have to now drive all the way around.
“This makes their journey cost more and also takes more time, sometimes making them late for their train. I don’t think this is very fair. We should have the same rules as Hackney carriages.”
Ronnie Melling, branch secretary of the Hackney Drivers Unite Union said: “While I can’t comment on behalf of the private hire drivers, I do see their point.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with them being able to drive in the bus lanes and go the same way as Hackney Carriages but on the other hand I can understand why the engineers at Wigan Council changed the flow of traffic as I think the idea is to stop traffic cutting through the town centre.”
Mark Tilley, head of highways, said: “We have not received any complaints about this issue but we accept that any new traffic arrangement takes time for people to get used to. We are applying the rules about private hire vehicles which are the same across the whole of Greater Manchester: a private hire vehicle is not a taxi and therefore cannot legally use bus lanes or facilities which Hackney Carriages are permitted to use.
“The new road layout was discussed by the borough’s traffic management unit.”