20,000 motorists fined for driving in North Hill bus lanes in Colchester in a year

Colchester MP Will Quince said the jury was out on whether the bus lanes will have an overall posi

Colchester MP Will Quince said the jury was out on whether the bus lanes will have an overall positive impact. - Credit: cont

A total of 20,170 tickets were issued to drivers travelling along the bus lanes between June last year and June this year.

The bus lanes were introduced in late 2013 to coincide with Colchester’s Park and Ride scheme, which launched in April this year, as well as giving shoppers a better town centre experience and improving traffic congestion.

But shop owners expressed fears they would suffer from a loss of trade.

Last night, Colchester MP Will Quince said the “jury was out” on whether the bus lanes will have an overall positive impact.

He said: “I have never been the biggest fan of that bus lane, but largely because I don’t get the purpose of it, and I know it has affected businesses in that area because I get a lot of correspondence from them.

“I understand why they have done it and it resolves around the park and ride, and the biggest test is going to be how it impacts the park ride.

“I’m waiting to see the benefits that they say are going to come with it, but as far as I’m concerned the jury is out.”

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Drivers caught using the bus lanes are ordered to pay a £60 fine, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. However, if left unpaid for 28 days or more, the fine increases to £90.

It means Essex County Council (ECC) chiefs have pocketed anywhere between £605,100 and £1,815,300.

Mr Quince added that he was “surprised” at the amount of drivers caught, saying: “Perhaps we need to look again if there is adequate signage, because that is a huge number of people.

“All these things should never be cash cows for councils. They should be for traffic flow and traffic management purposes. The council should do it all can not to make money out of it and instead get drivers to do the right thing.”

Alex Wild, research director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “While it is important that the council enforces the rules, this has to be done even-handedly and in a way that does not unnecessarily inconvenience motorists for whom driving is a necessity, not a luxury.”

The new figures, released by ECC under freedom of information laws, come after ECC chiefs warned in April that drivers face being fined for using a stretch of North Station Road.

The northbound lane between the Albert roundabout and Essex Hall roundabout is now a bus lane, meaning the entire stretch, northbound and southbound, became bus priority.

A warning sign was installed at the Albert junction.

An ECC spokesman said: “The bus lanes are a key element of the bus priority measures on the park and ride route and help to reduce journey times by providing public transport priority and helps to ensure journey time reliability.”