Scotland’s new highest-earning bus gate issued a record 32,000 fines last year, despite coronavirus restrictions and lockdown.
Campaigners expressed dismay at the level of fines, which worked out at almost 100 for every day of the year. The gate, at the junction of Union Street and Gordon Street near Central Station in Glasgow city centre, only opened in late 2019 but has issued more than £2 million-worth of tickets to drivers since then.
Meanwhile, the city’s other new bus gate, located on the opposite side of Glasgow Central Station at the junction of Midland Street and Oswald Street, was responsible for more than 15,000 fines last year.
This new revenue made up for significant reductions at other bus lanes and gates in the city. With traffic and businesses hit badly by lockdown restrictions, fines at the bus gate at Nelson Mandela Place, formerly Scotland’s highest earner, were down by a half.
The Union Street tickets were by far the most issued by a single bus gate or lane camera in Scotland in 2020. Luke Bosdet, spokesman for motoring group the AA, said: “It will come as little surprise to drivers in Glasgow that the city’s bus lane cameras continued to thrive during a year which has seen lockdowns, commuters working from home and reduced high street trading.”
The income from the two new cameras offset the decrease elsewhere and saw motorists hit with fines totalling £5.4m across the city, with 90,102 tickets issued by December 8.
In September 2019, we told how the Union Street bus gate’s switch-on had been delayed as the council fitted new signage after the initial layout sparked chaos.
We witnessed drivers slowing or stopping in confusion at the signage and road markings, trying to work out an alternative route, before the traffic flow in the busy one-way system forced them through the bus gate.
Drivers travelling in a bus lane or through a bus gate are issued with a £60 fine which is reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. The fine increases to £90 if unpaid within 28 days. Previous research by The Sunday Post showed 60% of fines issued in Glasgow during one month in the summer of 2019 went to postcodes outside the city, demonstrating that drivers unfamiliar with the road layout were being heavily hit and suggesting the signage was unclear.
Councillor Thomas Kerr, Conservative group leader on the local authority, said: “These figures will only confirm suspicions among the public that these lanes are being used as a way of collecting money, rather than punishing genuine breaches.
“Many motorists will be completely unaware of the layout of these lanes so the council must be transparent about where they are in place. The fact that even during lockdown fines have been in the millions is a stealth tax in all but name.”
Glasgow City Council said: “Giving buses priority on key routes gives operators the chance to run the kind of reliable and efficient services people want to use.
“All of our signage for bus gates and lanes is fully compliant with the roads legislation and in many cases goes far beyond what is required by the law.”
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