Traffic filters

What traffic filters are and what they do.

What are traffic filters?

Traffic filters are points on roads through which only certain types of vehicles (e.g. buses, taxis and cycles) may pass, similar to the existing bus gate in Oxford High Street. Any vehicle that goes through the filter but is not exempt will be issued with a penalty notice charge.

Traffic filters will reduce traffic and congestion, particularly in and around the city centre, and make bus journeys quicker and more reliable. They will also make cycling and walking much more attractive options and improve air quality.  

There will be exemptions for some road users, which are yet to be decided, along with the times of operation.

Reasons

  • Traffic filters will reduce traffic and congestion, particularly in and around the city centre, which will make bus journeys quicker and more reliable. They will also make cycling and walking much more attractive options for people making journeys within the city.
  • The proposed traffic filters will help reduce bus journey times by at least 10 per cent in the city, making buses faster and more reliable.
  • If implemented, they will also enable the rollout of 159 new electric buses in the city.

How do they work?

Traffic filters help reduce the number of cars entering the city centre and result in faster bus journey times.  Traffic signs identify the location of each traffic filter, including operational hours and vehicles that are exempt to travel through. The scheme will be enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras.

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.

Frequently asked questions

Why are you proposing traffic filters at these locations?

Traffic filter locations are designed to deliver traffic reduction benefits across the city and not just at the point where the traffic filter is located. The locations have been strategically chosen, so that a traffic filter in one location may also lead to greater traffic reduction in other areas across the city. Traffic filters and low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) work together to reduce traffic across the city.  

Why are you introducing traffic filters?

The proposed traffic filters will help reduce the number of cars entering the city centre and as a result, bus journey times will improve by at least 10 per cent, making buses faster and more reliable.  Less traffic on the roads will also reallocate space to pedestrians and cyclists, making their journeys safer. This will result in reduced transport emissions and improved air quality.

Will blue badge holders be permitted through the traffic filters?

Under the current proposals, blue badge holders and disabled tax class vehicles would be exempt from the proposed traffic filters. This is subject to the outcomes of the consultation and final scheme approval.

Will taxis and private hire vehicles be permitted through the traffic filters?

Under the current proposals, taxis and private hire vehicles would be exempt from the proposed traffic filters subject to the outcomes of the consultation and final scheme approval.

Are there going to be other exemptions, for example for residents and businesses?

We will be seeking views on this during the engagement process with further exemptions subject to the outcomes of that and a more detailed scheme appraisal.

Will the new traffic filters increase journey times?

The proposed traffic filters will help reduce bus journey times by at least 10 per cent in the city and encourage more people to walk and cycle. This will reduce overall congestion in the city, making car journeys faster for people who rely on them.

However, some journeys made by car may take longer, because they will have to take a less direct route.  The main aim of the scheme is to make walking, cycling and public transport the first transport choice for travel in Oxford.