Light could be at the end of the tunnel in finding a solution to traffic congestion in front of Sheffield railway station.
Plans have been drawn up to separate taxis and other vehicles with a view to improving the flow in and out of the station forecourt.
Since the area was redesigned several years ago to incorporate the new square, traffic has built up at peak times on the narrow approach and at the picking up and dropping off points, with taxis often competing with private vehicles for the limited space.
Now East Midlands Trains, which runs the station, is looking at ways of easing the pressure, at the same time as improving facilities for cyclists. The company is stressing that proposals are at a very early stage and are a basis for consultation.
Initial details submitted for council approval envisage remodelling the forecourt to create an extra lane of queuing for black cab taxis and to provide a better arrangement for setting down passengers for both hackney cabs and private taxis.
The new taxi rank would be under cover, in front of the south wing of the station.
Private cars would not be allowed to use the new forecourt. They would be directed to a new drop off area to be created in a staff car park next to Cross Turner Street. There would also be 12 short-stay parking spaces.
About 40 staff parking spaces would be reallocated to the adjacent multi-storey car park, which is already designated for free short-stay car parking (up to 30 minutes) for station visitors with the aim of keeping their cars away from the front of the station.
Scheme to improve traffic flow at city railway station.
Consultants for East Midlands Trains say current arrangements for picking up and dropping off passengers are difficult, particularly at peak times, “due to the fact that all traffic uses the same route. Attempts to persuade all drivers to use the multi-storey car park for short stay parking have only been partially successful ...”
The application for a taxis-only zone and a new private cars circulation pattern is intended “to ease and improve” the process of dropping off and picking up.
Hafeas Rehman, chairman of Sheffield Taxi Trade Association said congestion - and sometimes frustration - develops when private cars wait at the station on finding trains are late.
Too small an area was allocated by the council during the design of the new station square, despite warnings by taxi drivers, he said. Mr Rehman welcomed the principle of reassessing the arrangements and underlined the need for “proper consultation”.
Council approval is also being sought for a new cycle ‘hub’ at the station, including store for 400 cycles, a shop for repairs and maintenance and the hiring of bikes and changing facilities.
A spokesperson for East Midlands Trains said: “To tie in with the work taking place to build a new cycle hub at Sheffield station, we are looking at the station frontage and access for our passengers. Discussions are at a very early stage and the planning application has been submitted as a starting point while plans and discussions are developed.
“We do recognise that access to the station, particularly the drop off and pick up area, needs to be improved and we will continue to work to do that.”