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City bus lanes abused 100,000 times every year, report estimates

PUBLISHED: 18:11 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:11 03 July 2019

Climate scientist was refused travel on a First bus even though he had a valid ticket. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Climate scientist was refused travel on a First bus even though he had a valid ticket. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

Norwich's bus lanes are being used unlawfully around 100,000 times every year by errant drivers, according to a report.

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In a report to the Norwich City Council's cabinet, is has been estimated that approximately 100,000 potential contraventions of bus lanes in the city area take place each year - though not all of these are punished.

This estimated figure is higher than was anticipated when the lanes were first introduced, but has not necessarily come as a surprise to bus operators.

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties, said: "It is more than I would have expected, but doesn't necessarily surprise me.

"I don't think you tend to see cars driving the lengths of them, but where you see it most is people merging into them before the end. Newmarket Road is particularly bad for that.

The new bus lane leading to Market Avenue in Norwich. The entrance to Castle Mall car park can be seen in the background. Photo: Luke PowellThe new bus lane leading to Market Avenue in Norwich. The entrance to Castle Mall car park can be seen in the background. Photo: Luke Powell

"I understand that if people see a queue of 15 cars in front of them and the bus lane clear it can be tempting, but often they won't check if a bus is there, which causes accidents."

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The council's current contract to enforce bus lane use, which was costing around £125,000 per year, is due to expire at the end of September.

However, it is hoped a new partnership with a company called Bramble Hub will save almost £13,000 a year - despite the service being provided by the same contractor, Imperial Civil Enforcement Solutions.

Should the cabinet agree to the new contract, the service will come at an estimated cost of £111,000 per year, depending on the number of penalty charge notices issued.

However, as a self-funding service, any revenue from PCNs will counteract these costs, with any surplus being pooled into future transport projects.

A spokesman for City Hall said: "We are seeking to award this contract in this way to ensure the continuation of the good service we have received - the benefits of enforcing bus lanes is inarguable.

"It plays an important role in maintaining the reliability of public transport for all passengers and helps ensure that the concentration of traffic in the city centre is minimised, which is critical in improving air quality, noise levels as well as the safety of all road users."

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