Norwich drivers rack up £800,000 in fines for going into bus lanes
- Credit: Archant
Drivers have paid more than £800,000 in fines in under two years for going down Norwich roads where traffic has been banned, new figures have revealed.
And, with another camera due to be installed at a city bus gate in 2018, motorists have been warned they must obey the rules of the road.
A Freedom Of Information Act request has revealed more than a hundred drivers a week are still heading down St Stephens Street, despite it being more than two years since the road was made off-limits to traffic except for buses, taxis and cyclists.
Cameras were installed in St Stephens Street and Rampant Horse Street in October 2015, but a technical problem with the council's computer system meant penalty charge notices were not issued until December 2015.
But between then and the start of October this year, almost £430,000 in penalty charge notices has been raised from St Stephens Street and just over £243,000 from Rampant Horse Street.
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In December last year, another camera was installed to cover the bus lane on Albion Way, at Norwich's Riverside Retail Park. That generated more than £135,000 in fines.
The cameras are generating thousands of pounds a week for Norwich City Council, although City Hall bosses insist the money raised is reinvested in transport improvements.
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A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: 'The purpose of the cameras is to ensure the bus lanes are used solely for the purpose they're intended.
'One of the main aims of the new city centre arrangements was to reduce overall traffic levels substantially from streets, which are heavily used by pedestrians, to make them more pleasant and safer.
'Almost 50,000 people cross Rampant Horse Street every day and now that we've reduced the overall traffic flow to around 100 vehicles an hour it makes crossing the road much easier.
'The money from the bus lanes forms part of the annual surplus which is passed on to Norfolk County Council and used to support highway related projects within the Norwich Area Transportation Strategy.'
While those drivers who have been hit with fines might not appreciate the changes, bus operators do.
And they say that their passengers have benefited from services becoming more reliable thanks to less congestion.
Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties, said: 'Bus lanes provide us with a direct, uncongested route into and out of the city which helps with making buses reliable and an attractive option for travel.
'Buses can make a huge impact on reducing congestion and improving air quality in and around Norwich.
'As an example, one bus has the capacity to take at least 20/25 cars off the road if people changed their travel habits and used the local public transport network.
'We fully endorse measures introduced to improve bus travel and reduce congestion in the city.'