CAMERAS are being installed to catch drivers who illegally use bus gates and bus lanes.

The council has bought five cameras, costing approximately £180,000 in total, which will be rotated between each of the town’s 19 bus lanes and 24 bus gates from June 30.

It comes following complaints from residents that drivers regularly flout the regulations, causing a hazard on the roads and slowing down the public transport network.

A survey was carried out on bus gates in 2010, which showed they were misused an estimated 16,000 times per week.

As a result, last year the council decided to buy the cameras and this week engineers have been installing the units around the town.

Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “We know that most drivers respect bus gates and bus lanes, but a minority do not, and this has led to residents in some areas asking us to do more to prevent misuse.

“Many councils around the country now use this technology to keep public transport moving efficiently and to act as an effective deterrent to people who might be tempted to use or park in bus lanes, or go through bus gates. We will monitor the way the scheme is working and will review it in six months’ time to see what changes, if any, might need to be made.”

The cameras will recognise vehicles by using automatic number plate recognition technology, with the registration numbers of exempt vehicles logged within the system.

These will include Thamesdown and Stagecoach buses, emergency police, fire and ambulance vehicles, the council’s Homeline emergency response vehicles, and Network Rail emergency vehicles.

Taxis and motorcycles will also be able to use bus lanes as they do now, but will not be able to use bus gates.

Unauthorised drivers caught either driving or parking in bus lanes, or driving through bus gates, will receive a fixed penalty charge of £60. This will fall to £30 if paid within 14 days or rise to £90 if not paid within 28 days.

Thamesdown Transport said it welcomed the move as it increases the efficiency of bus routes.

Managing director Paul Jenkins said: “Bus gates are an important way of giving bus services priority over other traffic and we welcome their enforcement. Along with bus lanes they benefit our passengers by helping us deliver reliable and punctual bus services, even when there is congestion.”

Signs have been put up at each of the potential sites for the cameras but if no signs are up then they will not be in operation.

They should be installed by the end of this month.