SWINDON Council’s cabinet has approved plans to use cameras to catch motorists driving illegally in bus lanes and through bus gates – and fine them up to £90.
The authority will spend £180,000 on four special cameras to start enforcing the regulations on bus lanes and gates, which can only be used legally by buses, bicycles, emergency services and other authorised vehicles.
The council says enforcement in Swindon is carried out by Wiltshire Police but, due to competing pressures and priorities, they have not been able to provide consistent enforcement. Spot surveys showed there were an estimated 610,000 breaches last year.
The council says a lack of continual enforcement has led to some motorists regarding the traffic signs associated with bus lanes and gates as advisory rather than compulsory.
Last month Coun Keith Williams, the cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, said he hoped enforcement would reduce the problem, as private motorists in bus lanes impede buses.
And he said those wrongly passing through bus gates, such as Torun Way, in North Swindon, cause rat-running through estates, and sometimes trigger traffic lights to stop traffic on main roads, such as on Wootton Bassett Road at the junction with Penzance Drive.
“It’s a case of putting the message across and helping people understand the rationale behind it,” he said.
It is estimated the fine income would be £100,000 a year, of which £30,000 would cover running costs, with the surplus used for highway maintenance.
Paul Jenkins, the managing director of Thamesdown Transport, which is backing the scheme, said: “Bus lanes and gates help us to deliver reliable and punctual services for our passengers, because they keep journey times consistent, even when there is traffic congestion.
“Unfortunately, because there has been no enforcement until now, the lanes and gates are widely misused by other vehicles, slowing the buses down.
“If they are restored to their original purpose it will help us provide quicker journey times across Swindon, which will benefit our passengers.”
The digital cameras, expected to come into operation later this year, would disregard authorised vehicles, but other motorists would receive a £60 fine, which would be halved if paid within 14 days, or increased to £90 if unpaid within 56 days.