30,000 flout new Leeds bus lane rules

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A Leeds city centre enforcement camera snapping motorists illegally nipping into bus lanes to avoid traffic congestion is proving a mega money spinner for the council.

In the six months since the cameras were introduced around the city, 29,325 drivers have been fined a total of £712,000 for flouting the bus lane regulations.

And nearly 30 per cent of the total - 8,678 - were caught breaching the restrictions at just one location - the Vicar Lane, Headrow-Eastgate junction where motorists should turn left down Lady Lane.

Cameras could now be extended to other bus lanes.

A report on how the scheme could be rolled out to other areas is expected to go to the council’s Executive Board within the next three months.

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The cameras were placed at problem hotspots and council chiefs insist they are proving an effective deterrent.

They went live on August 8 and in the first nine days cameras picked up about 1,900 motorists illegally using the lanes.

Coun Richard Lewis, council executive member for development, said: “We’re very pleased with this scheme so far as overall the number of motorists abusing the bus lanes is going down, with some seasonal variations.

“It is addressing the problem of selfish drivers blocking bus lanes and slowing down buses, with knock-on effects to other road users across the city centre.

“Drivers knowingly break the law when driving in bus lanes and while the fixed penalty fees come back to the council, the scheme itself has involved significant set-up costs. Any cash left over is ploughed back into vital services.”

A survey last January found that 1,941 drivers unlawfully used bus lanes over three days in one week. At one site – Wellington Road near Clyde Approach – 572 motorists broke the rules.

Most offences took place during the morning peak period between 7.30am and 9am, delaying buses.

The penalty charge is £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. People have a right of appeal.

Emergency vehicles and taxis are allowed to use the bus lanes but not private hire cars.

The council last year acquired the responsibility from the police for enforcing rules designed to keep bus lanes clear.