29,000 Plymouth drivers face bus lane fine since August
DRIVERS have been caught in city bus lanes more than 29,000 times since last summer.
The 29,210 fines they have had to pay have earned Plymouth City Council's transport department £650,000 in just five months, Cabinet member Cllr Mark Coker said yesterday.
But Cllr Coker told a scrutiny panel examining the council's budget that drivers had been learning to stay out of bus lanes since the arrival of cameras last August.
He said that the rate at which fines were handed out had fallen by 75per cent across the city since the summer.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
Drivers using Tavistock Road in the north of Plymouth had been the quickest learners, with the rate of new fines falling by 90per cent.
"People are finally understanding that they cannot drive in bus lanes.
"Where ever these cameras have been installed there is always a spike in fines, but as education and penalty notices kick in you get a decline."
Cllr Coker assured Cllr David James (Con, Plympton St Mary), a panel member, that the money from the fines was being spent on transport in the city.
Before the council could install the cameras it had to sign up to an adjudication panel.
"We are the only authority that has not yet had any penalties overturned," Cllr Coker said.
"We have followed the processes correctly and legally. In other cities there has been chaos, with fines having to be repaid.
"Bus lane enforcement was the right thing to do. It has had a positive impact on the road network and has improved bus punctuality."
Cllr Coker assured Cllr Kevin Wigens, the shadow Cabinet member for transport, that "congestion charging is not on the radar".
He said it was a manifesto pledge by his party at last year's council election not to introduce congestion charging.
And Cllr Coker pledged that he would not increase parking charges in the city centre in the next financial year. "We are encouraging businesses," he said. "That's what they asked for and that what they've got."
But he said he would "address anomalies" between car parks, and would continue to look at pay on foot systems in city car parks.
Free parking at Western Approach car park before Christmas had made West End traders very happy, he said.
Coker said the transport and highways department at the council had grown by the equivalent of 35 full-time staff since April.
The department had been given a number of new responsibilities by the Government. In the meantime, it has cut senior management costs by 30per cent, Mr Coker said.
In the past year it has completed work at Laira Bridge and made improvements to cycle tracks.
Pay on foot has been introduced at the Mayflower East car park, and the Plymotion travel scheme has been launched. A ring and ride service was launched and school buses made a comeback.