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17 November 2013, 06:27
Drivers who illegally use Cambridgeshire's bus lanes could soon be fined £60.
Later this month, Cambridgeshire County Councillors will discuss plans to install enforcement cameras.
These cameras would catch car, lorry and van drivers using and blocking the county's bus lanes.
A council survey of three bus lanes in Cambridge discovered they were being misused up to 150 times and hour in peak periods.
That works out at around 600,000 occasions a year.
Bus lanes are to supposed be used by authorised vehicles only, including buses, taxis, emergency services and cyclists.
The Council says keeping them clear is essential to reducing congestion, helping the emergency services and protecting cyclists.
The new scheme being considered by the Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet on November 26, would, like other authorities across the country, use cameras to enforce contravention of bus lanes.
The authority insists any money raised by the fines would be used to pay for the scheme to operate or be invested in public transport or highway improvements.
A review of signs along bus lanes would be carried out before enforcement took place.
Enforcement powers are currently used by 28 other authorities in the country.
A study by TfL in London has shown routine enforcement of bus lanes can result in a 15% cut in bus delays as a result of an 85% improvement in compliance levels.
Cambridgeshire County Council has been awarded funding by the Department for Transport, through the Better Bus Area Fund, to implement the proposed enforcement.
Subject to Cabinet approval, it is anticipated that the implementation of bus lane enforcement utilising static or mobile cameras would begin in summer 2014.
Andy Campbell, Managing Director of Stagecoach East, said: "Our customers and drivers are regularly frustrated at being held up by motorists in bus lanes who think that the rules don't apply to them.
This is also a safety concern for our drivers, who have experienced some very erratic and selfish driving from those using bus lanes.
We are confident that the proposed enforcement would bring about real improvements to our services."
Graham Stagg, Chief Fire Officer at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It is imperative bus lanes in our county are kept clear and accessible for emergency vehicles and we support initiatives that help to do this.
Fire engines are large vehicles and in congested places like Cambridge city centre, can often find it difficult to pass along roads when attending an emergency.
Having a scheme to promote the clear passage of bus lanes would assist our crews greatly in getting to incidents as quickly and safely as possible, and therefore, will help to make Cambridgeshire a safer place."
Cabinet are being asked to agree a penalty charge of £60 for bus lane and bus gate contraventions.
Motorists who pay the fine within 14 days pay at a 50% discount rate of £30.