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How will Oxford’s 6 traffic filters affect your journeys?

How will Oxford’s 6 traffic filters affect your journeys?

What are traffic filters?

Traffic filters are restrictions implemented on certain roads to control the flow of vehicles. They are often implemented as part of wider initiatives to promote sustainable transportation, such as walking, cycling, or the use of public transport.

Are they coming to Oxford?

Oxford is seeking to implement a total of six traffic filters following the completion of the Botley Road construction works (this could be as early as November 2024). 

What will this look like?

Importantly, there will be no physical barriers. Instead, cameras will be set up on each ‘filter’ to log the cars that pass through. However, private car drivers may need to find alternative routes or adjust their travel habits unless they have a permit to pass through the filters.

traffic filter camera
Traffic filters are set to be policed by ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras that will look similar to this.

Why are they being introduced in Oxford?

Traffic levels and congestion in and around Oxford have reached high levels. As the local population grows, there will be more and more people driving to the centre of Oxford for appointments, business and leisure. Due to the old and narrow streets of the city, there’s no way to increase the capacity of Oxford’s roads. Therefore, the council has decided to tackle congestion by limiting private travel.

What are the filters aiming to achieve?

The traffic filters are designed to:

  • Reduce traffic
  • Make bus journeys faster
  • Enable new and improved bus routes
  • Enhance safety for walking and cycling
  • Reduce local air pollution
Oxford is the first UK city to trial these traffic filters, so we are yet to see how effectively traffic filters will meet these goals.

Where and when will they operate?

The traffic filters will be installed at the following six locations:

Every day, 7am to 7pm

  • St Cross Road, central Oxford
  • Thames Street, central Oxford
  • Hythe Bridge Street, central Oxford
  • St Clement’s Street, east Oxford

Monday to Saturday, 7am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm

  • Marston Ferry Road, Marston
  • Hollow Way, Cowley

What are traffic filter permits?

The amount of times someone can go through these filters will be determined by the number of ‘permits’ they have. Permits will be assigned depending on where you live in Oxfordshire. Those living within Oxford and some surrounding areas will get 100 permits per calendar year. Everyone else living in Oxfordshire will gain 25 permits per calendar year.

This means those living outside Oxfordshire will have 0 permits and must travel using an alternative route or via public transport.

What happens if I pass through more than one filter?

Your usage cap for permits is one per day. This means it’s possible to travel through all six filters in one day and only use one of your allotted permits. For this reason, it may be easier to think of your permits in terms of ‘day passes’ instead.

What if I run out of permits?

Cars that travel through traffic filters without a valid permit will be fined £70. This fine can be reduced to £35 if it’s paid within 21 days.

Who is exempt from the traffic filters?

To protect those who are vulnerable, there will be exemptions to the traffic filters. We’re highlighting some of these exemptions that might be relevant to you.

Unpaid carers

If you’re caring for someone living in the Oxford permit area, including those living with dementia, you’re entitled to an exemption. To get an exemption, you’ll need to have a valid Carers ID from Carers Oxfordshire, registered as a carer with your GP, or receive carer’s allowance.

Community health or care workers

If you live in Oxford, you might be concerned that these traffic filters will impact your Adviser’s ability to visit you. However, like all professional or voluntary health or care workers, our Advisers will be exempt when travelling for business purposes and so the support we offer will not change.

Blue badge holders

Blue Badge holders can register up to two cars to be exempt. These cars will only be exempt when they are being used for, or as part of, transport for the Blue Badge holder. Crucially, the registered cars can be changed as needed.

Frequent hospital patients

Similarly to Blue Badge Holders, those required to attend frequent hospital appointments can nominate up to two cars for exemption. These cars will also only be exempt when used for, or as part of, transport for the person needing treatment.

Other exemptions

Exemptions will also include the following groups:

  • Disability benefit claimants
  • Those with a disabled tax class car
  • School students with SEND
  • and various vehicles used for business use

For a full list of exemptions, see the County Council’s website.

Conclusion

The six incoming traffic filters will likely affect frequent commuters the most. Depending on where someone lives in Oxfordshire, they’ll have either 25 or 100 ‘day passes’ for Oxford’s traffic filters. A fine of £70 (reduced to £35 if paid within 21 days) will be issued for passing through a filter without a valid permit or exemption.

Amongst other groups, unpaid carers, Blue Badge holders, and frequent hospital patients will be able to apply for an exemption from the traffic filters.

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