Purpose of bus lane
Preston’s lucrative bus lane enforcement scheme - that was once criticised so severely it was switched off - fined motorists £115,440 in the week after it came back online in December 2017, Lancashire County Council revealed. 1,924 motorists fell foul at a cost of £60 each, but the price fell to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Driver Kieron Dawson, 42, implied that such rigorous enforcement encourages people to buy online rather than support high street shops. She said: “It is increasingly difficult to travel in and park in Preston. Do they want us to shop at Amazon? It's a disgrace we get collared with fines for driving on the road”, Dawson argued.
Student Annabelle Jones, 19, added: “It gives the impression they don't want our custom. Like they want to keep drivers out.” Furthermore, Muriel Barnes, 68, is worried that she accidentally broke the rules. “I drove from Blackpool to go shopping but wasn't aware of bus lane cameras. I hope I didn't get done”, she revealed.
The council counters that the lane permits buses to travel more freely. It lets a large number of passengers avoid congestion and minimises the number of vehicles in the city, in other words. The bus lane – that is on Mount Street and Corporation Street - is therefore closed to other traffic every day from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
The bus lane enforcement scheme first launched in October 2016. Over the next couple of months, 30,000 motorists fell foul at a total cost of 1.8 million. However, a handful of drivers challenged their fines and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal ruled in their favour.
Deputy Chief Adjudicator, Stephen Knapp, said at the time: “I am not satisfied the signing taken as a whole - but particularly at the point where the bus street restriction begins - is sufficient”.
The system was then switched off and most people got a refund. However, the council has now installed new, clearer, signs and switched the system back on. County Councillor, Keith Iddon, argued its job is to deter questionable behaviour rather than raise money.
Mr Iddon explained: “We’re happy if we don’t make a penny from the cameras. This means that people are doing the right thing.” He added that there was a “significant increase” in the number of motorists that entered the bus lane while the enforcement was suspended. This proved that a deterrent is required, he calculated.