Inverness councillor Bill Boyd calls for long distance coaches to be banned from city centre street
Get the Inverness Courier sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
A call has been made for coaches to be banned from a city street to make the area safer for pedestrians and tourists.
Inverness West councillor Bill Boyd wants to see Margaret Street closed to coaches for a trial period.
He says the move could be achieved using Spaces for People funding and the coaches could be re-routed via the Rose Street roundabout, taking them away from the city centre.
Around 12,000 long-distance coaches leave Inverness bus station via Academy Street each year and Cllr Boyd says the heavy volume of traffic leads to congestion and pollution in Academy Street.
He said the move would be aimed at coaches travelling to other Scottish cities, rather than the local bus services.
"When they leave the bus station they go onto Academy Street," he said.
"They are not picking up passengers, they are just going through, so they don't need to do that, they can go onto Rose Street and from Rose Street roundabout you can go anywhere."
Cllr Boyd said funding for the Spaces for People initiative allowed authorities to try experimental measures to make the city centre safer for residents.
The Scottish Government’s project gave Highland Council £2 million to install barriers to widen pavements across the region, to allow social distancing for pedestrians and cyclists.
He said the initiative would not cost much as it would only need the installation of signs as well as alterations to Margaret Street which he described as a "pinch point".
"We want the people who come to our city to be safe," he said.
"We want the tourists – in a few weeks time we will have people coming here from all over the world."
Ness-side councillor Ron MacWilliam agreed long distance coaches should not be using Academy Street as they added to congestion there though Inverness Central councillor Emma Roddick said she was not convinced cutting off a link from the bus station to the rest of the city was the right move, or the most beneficial of spaces to reclaim for people.
Fellow ward member Janet Campbell said she welcomed plans to reduce congestion but felt the needs of bus operators should also be considered.
The Scottish Government’s £10 million bus priority rapid deployment fund will support temporary bus priority infrastructure to reduce the impact of congestion on busy routes during and through the pandemic.
A Highland Council spokesman said: “This will support the bus industry by incentivising bus trips ahead of private vehicle journeys.
"In conjunction with similar active travel measures, it will provide a crucial role in protecting air quality in our city centres.
“The area which includes Academy Street is within Highland Council’s air quality management area.”