By Martin Graham
MOTORING groups have hit out at council plans to fine motorists £100 for driving in bus lanes.
Councils in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen have demanded the right install cameras on bus lanes and issue fines to drivers who use them to escape city gridlock.
Monitoring of bus lanes is currently done by the police, but they rarely fine drivers for using them.
Now local authority bosses have asked Scottish ministers to amend the law so that councils can install cameras, prompting accusations that they are just trying to make money from stray motorists.
Hugh Bladon from the Institute of Advanced Motorists said: “These cameras will prove easy pickings for councils struggling to make ends meet.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with safety or traffic flow, it’s just another tax on motorists.
“It would be crazy to place bus lane enforcement in their hands and I don’t think motorists will stand for it.”
Glasgow councilor Jim Coleman disagrees, and thinks that the plans make sense for bus users.
He said: “It would allow the city to respond better to the problems created by the abuse of lanes by the minority of drivers who inconvenience thousands of travellers and threaten safety every day.”
Brightly painted bus lanes are now commonplace on city streets, but many motorists are confused by the restrictions on when they can be used.
Some lanes are entirely out of bounds for cars, whilst others operate only at the morning and evening peak hours.
As a result, bus lanes are often empty, and can prove too hard to resist for motorists trying to fight their way through heavy traffic.
Phillip Gomm of the RAC said: “Many motorists equate cameras with easy money for councils to shore up their dwindling budgets.
“Bus lane rules need to be enforced but only to help keep public transport moving.
“If the regulations are being repeatedly flouted then councils need to ask why.
“Is it that drivers are being squeezed off the streets by buses which, despite the myths, are not a convenient way for everyone to travel?”
Cameras were installed by Aberdeen Council in 2004 at a cost of £400,000, but control was passed to the police because the council had no powers in law to enforce fines.
During a three day pilot, one camera in Aberdeen caught out 436 motorists flouting the bus lane restrictions, but a mere 10% were issued with fines.