Leeds bus lanes fines rake in millions of pounds

KEEP OUT: Thousands have been fined for driving in bus lanes.
KEEP OUT: Thousands have been fined for driving in bus lanes.
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Since installing cameras last year Leeds City Council has collected more than £2m from motorists illegally driving in bus lanes.

Between August 2011 and October 2012, the local authority has received £2,092,827 in fixed penalty notices after drivers clocked up a total of 70,885 offences.

The council said the scheme had reduced offences by 74 per cent since its launch, meaning improved traffic flow for public transport users.

It said the number of motorists caught illegally driving in bus lanes had fallen from 3,572 in the first week after the cameras were installed to 930 in the last week of October this year.

Under the scheme, vehicles seen illegally using bus lanes or bus gates are photographed and drivers sent a £60 penalty charge notice, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

Of the seven city-centre sites with cameras, the most offences were committed on Boar Lane, with 22,448 from when the devices were installed to October 2012.

Second was Kirkgate (Vicar Lane) with 15,496; then Vicar Lane, with 11,109 offences; Burley Road had 7,850 offences; the Headrow had 7,586 and Wellington Street, 4,267.

The council was quick to point out that the project was not a money-making exercise – the camera system cost around £500,000 to install and annual running costs were around £230,000. A spokesman said all surplus cash from the scheme was ring fenced for highways improvement such as pedestrian crossings, new bus lanes and traffic calming.

And while it had made “a significant surplus” this was actually a very small sum compared to overall spending on highways. The authority’s road maintenance budget alone for 2011 to 2012 was more than £21m.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and economy, confirmed there were plans to roll out the scheme. The next site is the A65, with work expected to be completed soon.

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