The first day of Huddersfield’s new ‘Bus Gates’ caused traffic jams as confused motorists tried to avoid breaking the rules.

The controversial scheme to prevent vehicles from key routes around town, launched this morning.

And one taxi firm has claimed it has already caused chaos for its drivers.

Many of the routes into St George’s Square and the train station are now off-limits to all but buses and Hackney Carriage drivers. Ignoring the rules will land motorists with a £60 fine.

“Bus Gate” enforcement cameras have been installed and are now live at Kirkgate, Westgate, Railway Street, Market Street and High Street.

The Examiner understands the limited access to the station caused problems for commuters today.

Members of the public, including blue badge holders and private hire taxis, are now banned from driving down the west side of St George’s Square to reach the station car park on the east side.

Enforcement cameras require vehicles entering Railway Street from Trinity Street to circle back out up Station Street onto Westgate.

Cars coming from the north side of town are also banned from continuing down Westgate, forcing all traffic onto the narrow back roads next to the station.

Vehicles are also unable to approach the station from the south side of town on Kirkgate.

Bus gate map by Kirklees Council

A route in from St Peter Street, also forces station traffic onto narrow Railway Street.

The only way to approach the train station drop off point is from the George Hotel side on John William Street.

Bosses of private hire taxi firms have complained that business will suffer and passengers will affected.

Mohammed Ali, a manager at A1 taxis, said one of his passengers had missed her train on Monday because of the new bus gates near the station.

He said: “I understand Hackney Carriage and Private Hire are different things but realistically they offer the same service to the public.

“This is causing us to fall out with our customers. We have to explain to them we can’t go to certain places.

“How are we supposed to pick up our disabled customers if we can’t get through? Kirklees haven’t thought this through.”

Huddersfield Town centre new bus gates go live, Kirkgate.

Beverley Hall, a partner in Mount Taxis, said the council had alerted them to the changes but also said she felt it was unfair as it meant higher fares for passengers using private hire taxis.

“It’s the same as bus lanes,” she said. “We’re not allowed in them.”

“It makes a difference to passengers as obviously the cost can increase as the driver has to go a different route, so it can make fares a bit higher.

“It also will effect some elderly passengers, who need to get as near as possible to drop off points and we can’t get there as easily.”

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Both Mr Ali and Mrs Hall said drivers had all been told about the system and that they would have to pay their own fines.

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said: “Nationally the majority of enforcing councils do not allow private hire vehicles to pass through bus lanes/gates.

“This is partly because national legislation states that only vehicles available for public hire - such as buses and Hackney Carriages - are allowed to use bus lanes, not private hire vehicles.

“In addition, Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles operate in different ways: Hackney Carriages can pick up from taxi ranks and be flagged down in the street, this means they do not know where their customers want to go until they get into the cab, and this destination could be within an area covered by a bus gate or bus lane.

Huddersfield Town centre new bus gates go live, vehicles ignoring the new bus gate on Market Street.

“Private hire vehicles are only legally available if pre-booked, and cannot be flagged down in the street. This enables them to plan their journeys in advance and avoid any streets where access is restricted.

“Another reason is that Hackney Carriages which have a lit ‘taxi’ sign on the roof making them easily identifiable.

“However, private hire vehicles look like a regular vehicles, especially in the dark. If private hire vehicles were allowed through the bus gates it could lead to confusion for members of the public who may think they can follow them through.

“In addition, as a member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), the council needs to be consistent in its approach to driving enforcement activities and mirror exemptions already in place across the WYCA.”

Bus gates will be active from 8am to 6pm around Westgate, Kirkgate, Market Street and Railway Street.

On High Street, near Huddersfield Town Hall, they will operate from 10am to 4pm.