Rogue motorists pay price for abusing city’s bus lanes

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Thousands of rogue drivers have been caught nipping into bus lanes in Leeds since enforcement cameras went live a few months ago.

Since August, more than 25,000 drivers have been fined, netting Leeds City Council, which runs the devices, more than £750,000.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the council’s executive member for development, said: “We’re very pleased with this scheme as overall the number of motorists abusing the bus lanes is going down, with some seasonal variations.

“It is addressing the problem of selfish drivers blocking bus lanes and slowing down buses, with knock on effects to other road users across the city centre.

“Drivers knowingly break the law when driving through these bus gates and while the fixed penalty fees come back to the council, the scheme itself was costly to set up and any cash left over is ploughed back into vital services.”

The cameras were introduced to try to ensure that traffic flows freely.

The issue has been a major problem as major routes are often clogged at peak times and supporters say dedicated lanes allow buses to move freely.

A survey by the local authority in late January recorded that nearly 2,000 drivers – 1,941 altogether – illegally cut into city centre bus lanes during three days one week.

All the weekly figures supplied to the Yorkshire Post show fewer drivers than those recorded in the survey using the bus lanes since the cameras came into operation.

In the January survey most offences took place during the morning rush hours between 7.30am and 9am.

In one location – along the Wellington Road bus lane near the Clyde Approach – 572 drivers were witnessed breaking the law by using the bus lane on one day.

The Leeds cameras in Leeds went live on Monday August 8, automatically issuing penalty charges of £60, which are reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. Most drivers chose to pay quickly.

Drivers can appeal against the tickets if they think they have been wrongly issued.

Emergency vehicles and registered taxis, but not private hire vehicles, are allowed to use bus lanes but most vehicles are not – and drivers are urged to be aware of road restrictions.

The cameras were placed at known city hotspots.

Transport chiefs say that for each driver who attempts to shave a few seconds off a journey bus loads of other commuters and law-abiding drivers are held up.

The council recently acquired the responsibility from the police for enforcing rules on keeping bus lanes clear.

When the scheme began, then Metro chair Councillor Chris Greaves said: “Metro, local councils and bus operators invest in schemes to improve public transport, but all this good work is for nothing if car users block bus lanes and restricted areas and park in bus stop lay-bys, preventing passengers from using the special-level access stops we’re introducing.”