Bus lane enforcement review findings announced

A review carried out by the City of Edinburgh Council into bus lane enforcement has concluded that the scheme will continue to operate but will be altered.

The changes being made with immediate effect are:
  • The removal of the two cameras on Willowbrae Road;
  • The automatic waiving of any fines issued to drivers from these cameras to date;
  • Additional signs are to be erected alerting drivers about remaining bus lane cameras.
  • Any driver who has incurred an initial ticket, and who commits further offences before receiving formal notification of the first ticket, will only be required to pay the first fine. However once a driver has received this formal notification, any subsequent tickets issued will be enforced. Drivers are also reminded that there is a right of Appeal in terms of any ticket issued.
  • Cameras on both sides of Willowbrae Road have been removed from the scheme after the review found that it was difficult for some drivers to avoid crossing bus lanes when turning into driveways and side streets, or when avoiding a vehicle making a right turn.

However, the remaining three cameras will continue to operate as usual on London Road and Calder Road.

All outstanding fines incurred on Willowbrae Road will be cancelled and those who have already paid will be given a refund.

Out of a total of 4,301 fines issued on this road, 2,288 had been paid, 510 had been appealed against and 2,013 had not been paid.

The Scottish Government granted Edinburgh and several other local authorities the power to fine drivers using bus lanes in order to help improve public transport times and to tackle city centre congestion.

However, Edinburgh's transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds asked for the review to be carried out after a higher number of drivers than expected were continuing to use bus lanes during restricted hours despite the new rules.

A trial period between April 2 and 23 where offenders received warning letters but no fine, resulted in 3,658 letters being sent out. In the first three weeks of full enforcement, almost 4,500 drivers were caught each week contravening the rules.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener, said: "Last week, following concerns raised by a number of drivers and local residents, I ordered a review of the bus lane camera enforcement scheme in the city and can now report on its findings.

"As previously stated, we all want public transport to run efficiently and bus lanes play a major role in achieving this. Like all such policies, a degree of enforcement is needed to encourage everyone to treat bus lanes with respect. The vast majority of drivers in Edinburgh behave responsibly and this scheme was intended to target those who ignored the bus lanes and entered them to the detriment of bus passengers and other drivers. However, it is important that any enforcement action is based on common sense.

"The review which has now been completed has shown that 2 of the 5 cameras in operation, both situated in Willowbrae Road were penalising some motorists who were entering the bus lanes with good reason. One particular area of concern was when drivers entered a bus lane to slow down in anticipation of a left turn across a bus lane. There was also an issue about drivers entering a bus lane in order to avoid queuing behind a right-turning vehicle.  Immediate action has been taken to decommission these sites and the officers have been requested to come back in due course with a fair and workable system for these locations.

"In the meantime I have requested that all the tickets issued at this location be withdrawn and that refunds be issued to those drivers who have already paid their tickets.

"In addition, once the problems at Willowbrae came to light, I instructed that apart from suspending these cameras, no further tickets were to be issued at the other 3 locations (2 at the Calder Road and the other at London Road at Jock's Lodge), until each ticket had been carefully scrutinised to ensure that they were justified.  Officers have assured me that the review has confirmed that remaining 3 cameras are operating effectively and these will remain in operation. I have been assured that the scrutiny of tickets at these locations has now been been carried out. Of course any driver who feels aggrieved with any ticket issued at these locations has a right of Appeal and we will look closely and sympathetically at each case raised."

Q and A

Q. If I have received a fine for being caught driving in the bus lane on Willowbrae Road am I likely to have it waived?

A. Yes.

Q. If I have received a fine for being caught driving in one of the three other bus lane cameras am I likely to have it waived?

A. Only if the driver can provide evidence that they were in the bus lane for a necessary reason (e.g. avoiding an obstruction, making a left turn, making way for emergency vehicles)

Q. Will the three other cameras remain in operation at present?

A. Yes.

Q. There were five other sites identified when the camera enforcement scheme was announced. Are they currently enforced in any way at present? Are there plans to introduce cameras at these sites?

A. They are not currently enforced by cameras. Although cameras may be introduced at these locations in the future this will only happen after a full review of how we manage and enforce the bus lanes, which has already started. In addition drivers should be aware that it is an offence to drive in the bus lanes during the specified times and the Police still have powers to enforce this.

Q. It has been reported that there is a backlog in issuing fines. Is this the case and if so how long is it taking to issue drivers with fines?

A. The relevant Regulations allow 28 days from the detection date for a notice to be issued. When it became apparent on 16 May that there were some issues, particularly at Willowbrae, the issuing of notices was suspended to allow the review to be carried out. The notices issued in relation to Willowbrae Road have been withdrawn and refunds will be issued where appropriate. Instructions were also given that no notices were to be issued in relation to the other 3 locations until each ticket had been scrutinised. This has now been done and these tickets are now being issued.

Q. If I appeal my fine today for example when can I roughly expect to receive the ruling on whether it is successful or not?

A. We aim to respond within 10 working days.

Q. Why was someone fined for driving before the stated times of enforcement?

A. There was an error with enforcement software which resulted in six notices being issued incorrectly. This error was promptly corrected and all associated notices have been cancelled.

Q. How many fines for being caught driving in the bus lanes enforced by cameras have been handed out since April 23?

A. 10958

Q. How many appeals have you received since April 23?

A. 1565

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