10,000 drivers fined for using bus lanes in Leicester
More than 10,000 motorists have been caught illegally using two bus lanes since cameras were installed this summer.
Figures from Leicester City Council showed 6,049 motorists were fined for driving along the bus routes in Charles Street or Causeway Lane, near Highcross shopping centre, in July, with a further 4,365 in August.
The authority started taking enforcement in July, issuing £60 penalties for those caught flouting the rules.
It said the scheme was designed to cut congestion and speed up bus journeys rather than generate income.
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But one councillor said he thought the scheme, while well-intended, was too harsh on motorists and feared it might be harming the council's reputation among drivers.
Liberal Democrat Nigel Porter, a member of the transport scrutiny committee, said: "It seems a little Draconian. Motorists pay their council tax but still get clobbered with fines.
"I know why the scheme was brought in and the intention is good but I don't think drivers will see it that way."
He said "obviously something isn't working" with the scheme because "huge numbers of people are being caught".
"I wonder if we could just enforce at peak hours rather than all the time," he said.
"At 11pm, when there is not a lot of traffic and not many buses, I don't think it's right we should be fining people for straying into bus lanes."
The council said round-the-clock enforcement prevented any confusion for motorists.
It said money raised was reinvested in the city's transport network.
Drivers are fined £30 if they pay within 14 days, rising to £90 if they leave it for more 28 days so the final sum generated in the first two months will be between £312,000 and £937,000.
Councillor Rory Palmer, council transport spokesman, said: "I think the numbers of people being caught demonstrate there was a real problem in the first place.
"This is not about the council making money. The money generated goes into things such as subsidising free bus travel for pensioners.
"There are signs which make it very clear to people they should not be driving in the bus lanes. If they still do it they will be fined."
Garry Scott, council transport project manager, said the fall in the number of drivers caught in August showed the message was getting through.
But he said: "There is still a significant number of people breaking the law.
"We need to look at more signing, though what there is, is very comprehensive."
Steve Zanker, general manager of First buses, said the scheme had made life easier for the company's drivers.
"However, the enforcement began in the summer holidays when there was less traffic and I think the number of people caught might go up when we get the figure for September and October," he said.
The council plans to install enforcement cameras on bus lanes in Rutland Street, in the city centre, and Aylestone Road early in the new year.
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