Lanes must not be a cash cow

First published in Our View by

The introduction of bus lanes around the Bradford district has been seen as a boon by some, and a hindrance by others.

They are a good thing if they indeed do the job they are designed for, allowing buses freer access along congested routes and keeping big and frequently-stopping vehicles out of the main flow of traffic. But some motorists will wonder whether there is enough bus traffic to warrant essentially reducing the lanes for normal traffic and thus leading to even more delays for car drivers and motorcyclists.

Bradford Council is evidently more than pleased with its bus lanes for at least one reason – since switching on cameras to catch motorists who unlawfully use bus lanes, the authority has scooped £2.3 million in fines, the equivalent of £17,000 a week.

While transgressors should and must be taken to task, it is a cause for concern that many people might have incurred charges because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time with no real intention to illegally use the bus lanes. Changes to the road system can take a long time to bed in and can be confusing to motorists, especially to those who are not regular visitors to the district.

Many people may well have wandered into bus lanes by accident and will no doubt feel aggrieved at a fixed penalty notice landing on their doormats.

If the bus lanes ultimately do their job – easing congestion, encouraging more people to use a public transport system that is clean, fast and reliable, and in the long-term improve our impact on the environment, then all well and good.

But if they are viewed as simply a cash cow for the Council, then that is not in the spirit of their design and implementation.

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