Plymouth bus lane drivers fined £850,000 as 33,715 caught in six months
DRIVERS who stray into bus lanes have been fined more than £850,000 in the last six months, new figures show.
A total of 33,715 penalty notices – 187 per day – have been handed to motorists since the city's six cameras were switched on in August last year.
The cameras have brought the council £851,000 in fines – £200,000 of which came in the last month alone.
If the trend continues the total amount generated is expected to pass £1million in the next month.
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Motorist Jo Higson said: "I would like to know exactly what the money is being spent on, and whether they are going to document that. Where is the evidence that it is making a difference? The cameras are there to prevent the bus lanes becoming clogged.
"I am particularly concerned about the one in Tavistock Road in Derriford. I drive that way frequently and have done for years and I have never seen a car blocking the passage of a bus.
"If there is evidence that it makes a difference to congestion and improves the flow of traffic then good luck to them. But if there is no evidence to suggest that putting the cameras there is reducing the congestion then I think it's just a money-making exercise and that's not justifiable."
A council spokeswoman said the money would be invested back into the city's transport network.
She said: "Cameras were introduced in bus lanes last August on sites across the city where there were road safety concerns and where buses were facing issues with punctuality. This followed a five-month awareness campaign aimed at motorists."
Drivers who flout bus lane laws and are caught by numberplate recognition cameras are fined £60 – discounted to £30 if paid promptly.
The council says there has been a 75 per cent reduction in the number of fines issued since 7,402 penalties were issued in the first month of operation.
In November last year Ms Higson submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the council, asking for "copies of the evidence that informed the placement of the bus lane cameras in Plymouth."
In response, Pauline Burrows, the council's parking systems manager, said: "The use of such technology is regrettably required as a result of motorists who ignore bus lane traffic orders. Enforcing the correct use of bus lanes supports increased bus service reliability, improved bus passenger journey times, encouraging the use of public transport (which supports an on-going commitment by the council to increase the use of public transport and reduce traffic pollution) and providing a safer lane for cyclists.
"It is our aim to reduce abuse of bus lanes to such a low level that such enforcement measures would no longer be required."