Bus lanes branded ‘huge money-spinner’ as surpluses from enforcement near £80m

Bus lanes have been branded a “huge money-spinner” for councils as new figures show annual council surpluses from their enforcement near £80 million.

AA analysis of Department for Transport data shows English local authorities generated a combined £127.3 million in revenue from fining motorists for driving in bus lanes when not allowed during the 2022/23 financial year.

Taking £47.7 million of costs into account, this resulted in a total surplus of £79.6 million.

Much of the surplus was generated by Transport for London (£48.5 million).

Manchester City Council made £4.8 million, Bristol City Council hauled in £2.9 million, while Essex County Council took £2.5 million.

Bus lane rules vary, with some only operating at periods of peak congestion, or open to certain other vehicles such as taxis and motorbikes.

Many are enforced by cameras, leading to fines being issued for improper use.

Drivers who enter a bus lane when not permitted on a Transport for London (TfL) road face being handed a Penalty Charge Notice of £160, reduced to £80 if paid within a specific time frame.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: “Bus lanes are a huge money-spinner for many local authorities that enforce them.

“The cameras that monitor them haul in fines on an industrial scale.

“The problem is that, for many sites, the number of drivers caught doesn’t go down.

“That strongly suggests that signage and road markings often don’t do their job in directing drivers away from bus lanes, which need to be kept clear to maintain the efficiency of public transport.

“It’s hard to believe that so many motorists throw themselves into bus lanes like lemmings, for the joy of losing a day’s wages.

“There needs to be greater transparency of fine levels for bus lanes that are hauling in so much income.

“If so many drivers are being caught along a stretch of road then surely the enforcement isn’t working properly and the cause of the failure needs to be understood and rectified.”

Cllr Claire Holland, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Bus lanes are an important tool to help keep buses on time and therefore encourage more people to use them. This helps to attract more bus users, which in turn helps to keep congestion down and our roads flowing.

“Any surplus income from such fines has to be spent on local transport improvements by law, such as providing vital bus services, keeping fares down or on highways improvement, including road safety measures and fixing potholes.

“Drivers are also able to contest fines if they think they have been unfairly penalised.”

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