Fines for misuse of bus lanes set to double in county in just two years

The High Street/East Hill bus lane in Colchester Picture: SU ANDERSON

The High Street/East Hill bus lane in Colchester Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

The number of fines issued to motorists for driving in bus lanes is on track to double in two years, figures published by Essex County Council have revealed.

Compared to 2016, when 34,507 tickets were issued to motorists for driving in bus lanes, the county council has issued 46,598 fines between the beginning of the year and the beginning of August.

If that trend continues the county council will have issued more than 70,000 tickets by the end of the year.

The county council started enforcing bus lanes through cameras in 2017 when there were 60,752 fines.

The income to the council from bus fines has been steadily growing since 2015.

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In 2015/2016 a total of £655,560 was paid to the county council, in 2016/17 £731,360 and in 2017/2018 almost 1.9 million.

From the beginning of the year to the beginning of August, £638,635 was paid to the council in fines for travelling in bus lanes.

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It means the fines paid will be at least as much as last year if that trend continues.

The council, which enforces nine bus lanes and gates with cameras in Chelmsford, Basildon and Colchester, said that up until spring 2017 it largely relied on a combination of voluntary driver compliance and police enforcement to dissuade drivers from contravening the bus lanes or bus gates.

It has defended the increased enforcement by arguing that as the county’s population and economy grows, it has seen the level of infringements increasing, which can affect bus punctuality and lead to less reliable journey times.

“Increased enforcement is designed to change the behaviour of those drivers who choose to use bus lanes and bus gates illegally, keeping them available for their intended use. It also helps to maintain safer routes for pedestrians,” a spokesperson said.

North Hill Colchester, High Street Colchester and Duke Street Chelmsford are the three most lucrative bus lanes for the council.

Additional recent figures have revealed that more than 37,000 penalty charge notices were issued against motorists for driving through the Chelmsford bus gate – raising a potential £1.2 million in fines for ECC.

About 8,000 people were caught by the bus gate in the first four weeks of the start of the enforcement in August 2017.

The council added that all money generated by PCNs is ring-fenced and reinvested to help improve public transport across Essex

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