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Traffic filters

What traffic filters are and how they will work.

What are traffic filters

When they are operating, private cars will not be allowed through the traffic filters without a permit. All other vehicles including buses, coaches, taxis, vans, mopeds, motorbikes and HGVs will be allowed at all times. Residents in Oxford and some areas just outside the city will be able to apply for a permit allowing them to drive through the traffic filters for up to 100 days per year.

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras will monitor the traffic filters.

Why we're proposing traffic filters

Across our county, we want to reduce unnecessary journeys by private vehicles and make walking, cycling, public and shared transport the natural first choice.

This will help us deliver an affordable, sustainable and inclusive transport system that enables the county to thrive whilst protecting the environment and making Oxfordshire a better place to live for all residents.

Traffic filters are an important tool to achieve this in Oxford. The proposed traffic filters will reduce traffic levels across the city. They will:

  • make walking and cycling safer and more attractive.
  • make bus journeys quicker and more reliable.
  • enable new and improved bus routes.
  • support investment in modern buses
  • help tackle climate change, reduce local air pollution and improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.

Proposed locations

Map showing where traffic filters are proposed.

The current proposals include six traffic filters. Three of these will be located in the city centre on:

  • St Cross Road
  • Thames Street
  • Hythe Bridge Street.

The remaining three filters will be located on:

  • St Clements
  • Marston Ferry Road
  • Hollow Way.

The St Clements traffic filter is new compared to previously published proposals in 2019. 

The exact location of traffic filters will be finalised after the engagement, public consultation and further detailed work. As part of this process, additional traffic filters may be proposed. 

The locations have been strategically chosen to reduce traffic in certain parts of Oxford. Some of the filters are on roads with relatively few cyclists and buses, but the filters will work together as a system to reduce traffic on roads that do have high volumes of buses and cyclists.

Trialling the traffic filters

To test the traffic filters and allow people to comment on their impacts before making them permanent, we’re proposing to trial them initially.

The trial phase would run for at least six months, allowing data and feedback from the public to be collected.  Changes can be made to the filters in response to monitoring and feedback during the trial.

How traffic filters work

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras will be installed to monitor vehicles going through the traffic filters. Traffic signs will identify the location of each traffic filter, including operational hours and vehicles that are exempt to travel through.

Any vehicle that goes through the traffic filter and is not exempt, will be charged a penalty of £70.

The traffic filters will operate seven days a week from 7am to 7pm, apart from the traffic filters on Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way, which will not operate on Sundays.  This is because traffic levels in these parts of the city are significantly lower on Sundays than at other times of the week.

Who will be exempt from travelling through the traffic filters?

For the trial phase, it is currently proposed the following vehicles will be exempt from the traffic filters. This means they can travel freely, at all times and without applying for a permit.

  • Buses
  • Coaches
  • Taxis
  • Private hire vehicles
  • Mopeds
  • Motorbikes
  • Vans
  • HGVs
  • Special vehicles such as emergency services

 Permits for private cars will be available for: 

  • Blue badge holders (either driving the car or being driven in the car) and disabled tax class vehicles        
  • Non-professional carers (in receipt of carer’s allowance)       
  • Professional health and care workers (for operational journeys, not commuting)   
  • Businesses within the permit area using a private car as a goods vehicle    
  • Residential properties within the permit area eligible for 100 day passes per vehicle per year (up to a maximum of three vehicles per household and one vehicle per person)  
  • Community transport vehicles      
  • Those in receipt of mobility-related benefits      
  • Those in receipt of direct travel payments.

Public consultation and timeline

We plan to implement the trial traffic filters under an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) for a minimum of six months before making a decision about whether to make them permanent and finalising the exemptions, timings and locations.

Public consultation on plans to introduce the traffic filters under an ETRO will take place from 5 September 2022 to 13 October 2022. If approved by the County Council’s cabinet, the ETRO on the traffic filters will start in Summer 2023.

More information can be found on the consultation page on LetsTalk

    Public consultation took place from 5 September until 13 October 2022.

    See more information on our proposals.

    Timeline

    • February to October 2022: meetings with businesses, resident groups, schools, hospitals and other organisations.
    • 5 September 2022 – Pre-ETRO consultation opens.
    • 13 October 2022 – Pre-ETRO consultation closes.
    • Autumn 2022 – Cabinet decision on proposed ETRO.
    • Summer 2023 –If approved, the traffic filter ETRO would start for a minimum of six months. A second public consultation will also take place during this time, while the scheme is operating.

    Background reports