Oxfordshire County Council are introducing many ways to try to reduce car journeys and increase walking and cycling.

There have been a raft of controversial policies and trials announced and proposed with many people now really quite confused about what each scheme entails.

The terms traffic filter and bus gate have in the past been used interchangeably. Are they the same thing?

What exactly is a traffic filter?

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson said: "A traffic filter is a camera-enforced point on a road which certain types of traffic aren’t allowed through at certain times.

The six trial traffic filters starting in November 2024 only restrict cars: all other types of vehicles can travel through the filters at any time, without a permit.

"The trial traffic filters will be implemented on St Cross Road, Thames Street, Hythe Bridge Street, Clement’s Street, Marston Ferry Road, and Hollow Way.

Sites of the trial traffic filters starting in November (Image: OCC)

"Traffic filters are designed to reduce car traffic on key roads right across the city, to make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer and more attractive while also still allowing access through the filters for many other road users." 

How many free passes will I get and how will I get them?

Car owners in Oxfordshire will be able to register for some free passes to go through the filters. One pass means you will be able to drive through all the filters, as many times as you like, for one day.

All residents within the Oxford permit area will be able to apply for 100 free passes per car per year for up to three cars per household.

One car owner can’t have multiple sets of passes, and passes can’t be swapped between vehicles.

All Oxfordshire residents who live outside the area will be able to apply for 25 free passes per car per year for up to two cars per household.

In summer 2024, you will be able to register for passes online, by email, or by phone. Oxfordshire County Council’s website has more information.

So what is a bus gate?

A bus gate is a short section of street which generally only allows local buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, and emergency services to go through.

Bus gates on the High Street have been in place since 1999 and there are several others in Oxford: on Castle Street, George Street, Magdalen Street, Folly Bridge, Barton Fields Road and A40, Cornwallis Road and Bartholomew Road.

Bus gates have been in place on the High Street since 1999

You can find more information about traffic filters, their locations, hours of operation and permits available on the county council’s website.

Locations and timings of bus gates are available on the county council’s website.