BUS and taxi firms are joining motorists in condemning Newport's traffic chaos.

One city centre taxi firm is even warning customers not to come into Newport during peak hours - because they will end up paying so much because of delays.

John Lavender, owner of Dragon Taxis, said he warned passengers against venturing into the city centre between 3pm and 6pm, as a three-mile trip from Bettws to the railway station could rise from £4.50 to more than £6.

"I think that people now avoid Newport at peak times so that must have an impact on businesses across the city," he added.

As the Argus reported yesterday, temporary traffic lights set up by Welsh Water in Bassaleg are causing long tailbacks at rush hour - with queues stretching back to affect two motorway junctions.

The roadworks on the junction between Forge Lane and Caerphilly Road will be in place for five weeks.

Bus company Newport Transport says it and other bus firms are not briefed when roadworks are scheduled.

Trevor Roberts, Newport Transport's managing director, said: "This week there suddenly appeared a new set of roadworks at the top of Forge Lane - no advance warning - but major tailbacks. That has a knock-on effect across the whole city and people get very frustrated when their bus turns up late."

TGWU branch secretary Malcolm Richards, speaking on behalf of bus drivers, said: "The council seem to think that we don't need to know about roadworks, but we do. It's us who are on the front line and it's us who get it in the neck when our customers' buses run late."

A council spokesperson said: "We were aware that there were teething problems with the lights. However, yesterday we had people making sure they are operating properly."

The Bassaleg tailbacks are adding to the delays at Pont Ebbw roundabout, where work on Newport's £50m Southern Distributor Road, is under way. City transport chiefs and bus companies say the road, due to open next autumn, will eventually ease Newport's traffic misery.

The AA has identified the M4 Brynglas Tunnels as one of seven summer traffic hotspots in Wales.