Aug 16 2012 EXCLUSIVE by Joe McGuire
Bus Lane Image 4
Scenes like this are becoming all too common, with drivers shunning bus lanes even when permitted for fear of heavy fines.
BUS lanes are driving motorists round the bend.
Nearly three months on from the introduction of bus lane enforcement cameras more than 10,000 Glaswegians have been fined a total of £925,000.
And although the council undertook a month-long public awareness campaign, an investigation by The Glaswegian has revealed that motorists remain clueless as to when they are allowed to use the bus lanes, resulting in unnecessary traffic.
When we visited West George Street on Friday the sign advising motorists of bus lane hours was skewed rendering it unreadable from the road.
In a 30 minute period, from 2.30pm to 3pm, just six buses and 12 taxis made use of the bus lane in the same time as hundreds of cars poured through.
We observed motorists turning right from Hope Street being left to miss two sets of green lights, as the bus lane restricts traffic and selfish motorists occupy yellow cross hatchings at the junction and force their way into the lane.
Confusingly there are parking spaces drivers have to cross the bus lane to get to, resulting in some using the spaces being issued with fines unfairly.
We spoke to one van driver from an international delivery company on West George Street who said that the bus lane enforcement cameras were adding further misery to commercial drivers' jobs.
The driver, who asked not to be named, said: “You would not believe how much more difficult this is making life for me.
“A few of the boys have got fines and it really grates with us - it’s always been a tough gig delivering in the city centre with the bloody traffic wardens but now it’s like the council has declared war on us.”
He also confirmed that he did not know the hours he was allowed to drive in the bus lane, and when we pointed out the skewed hours of operation sign he said: “How the hell they expect you to know when to drive in bus lanes when that’s how they tell you I’ve no idea.”
We headed to Great Western Road, where the bus lane is enforced from 7am to 9.30am and 4pm to 6.30pm.
To see if people understood when they could and could not use the bus lane we observed the number of cars using the lanes heading both towards and away from Byres Road from 3.30pm to 4pm and 4pm to 4.30pm.
We observed eight cars heading away from Byres Road and five towards from 3.30pm to 4pm in bus lanes when they were permitted.
After 4pm, when drivers would be hit with a fine if caught, we saw ten cars heading away from Byres Road and five towards in bus lanes.
Over the 60 minutes we were there we saw just seven buses and 12 taxis heading away from Byres Road and eight buses and ten taxis heading towards.
We consistently saw drivers in the left hand lane moving out into the right and then back again when the bus lane ended, even when they were allowed in the lane.
We also witnessed several motorists abruptly veer out of the bus lane and into moving traffic in an unsafe fashion even during the period they were permitted in the lane.
The hours of operation sign was also largely obscured by foliage heading towards Byres Road and hard to read heading away thanks to its dirty state.
West end resident Finbarr Rose is one of the thousands who have received a fine after straying into a bus lane to move around a static car.
But the 23-year-old student hasn’t been soured on bus lanes and believes they are helping keep roads clear.
He said: “I think they’re a good thing.
“I hate seeing people scoot down bus lanes then pull in at the last second while the rest of us wait.
“They deserve to get caught.”
While The Glaswegian’s investigation revealed road signs have been left unreadable, we discovered conscientious motorists who go online to find out bus lane hours of operation will be likewise stymied.
By going onto the council website and searching for bus lane the top result gives generic information about the enforcement scheme.
Lower down results give operating hours for older bus lanes, with the website revealing it was updated more than four years ago, February 26, 2008.
But there is no mention of some of the bus lanes with enforcement cameras, including West George Street.
Paul Watters, Head of Roads Policy at the AA told The Glaswegian that hours of operation uncertainty has “sterilised” bus lanes across the UK.
He said: “Transparency (as to when bus lanes can be used) is key whether that’s online or on the street.
“It should be blindingly obvious to drivers when they can drive in lanes...it’s important that the council takes the public with them on this or they’ll lose public support.”
Mr Watters also pointed out that tourists’ experiences of the city could be soured as they get hit with bus lane fines when they return home, denied the chance of appeal by their car hire company.
After we drew the council’s attention to the website, a spokesman pledged that the authority would update it “as soon as possible”, and promised to renovate road signs.