Monday, 7 February 2011

Bus lane abusers to pay price of clogging city centre traffic

Law-breaking motorists who abuse bus lanes will pay the price of slowing down city centre traffic in Leeds when they start getting fined under a major clampdown.

Enforcement cameras are going up over the next few weeks at key city centre bus gates and lanes to catch rogue motorists who use them as illicit traffic short-cuts.

A recent survey by Leeds City Council found more than 500 drivers a day illegally cutting through city centre bus gates and lanes, the vast majority of which were during the morning rush from 7.30-9am, holding up buses full of commuters and other passengers.

Researchers found an average of 30-40 breaches an hour in a number of city centre bus lanes and gates. The council has decided to introduce the cameras in key sites to tackle the persistent problem, which contributes to clogging up city centre traffic. The council also intends at a later stage to introduce a mobile camera to tackle the issue elsewhere.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development, said:
“This is all about keeping the city centre moving and making sure buses can have the clear access through their dedicated lanes that they are entitled to. Selfish drivers who abuse the lanes hold up the buses, which in turn causes knock-on effects to traffic and other, law-abiding motorists.”

Metro, which co-ordinates the transport for West Yorkshire, is supporting the scheme.

Metro chair Councillor Chris Greaves said:
“Metro, local councils and bus operators invest in schemes to improve public transport, but all this good work is for nothing if car users block bus lanes and restricted areas and park in bus stop lay-bys, preventing passengers from using the special-level access stops we’re introducing.”

To make sure motorists are aware of the implications of cutting into bus lanes in Leeds, there will be a trial period where warnings will be issued to those doing so to alert them about the future fines.

This will take place in the run-up to the switching-on of the new cameras, which is scheduled for the beginning of April. From then, anyone in the lane illegally risks being captured on camera and receiving a penalty charge notice of £30.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335