Norwich drivers rack up over £400,000 in bus lane fines

The 'bus gate' on Rampant Horse Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The 'bus gate' on Rampant Horse Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A one-mile stretch of road has cost Norwich drivers more than £400,000 in the space of 10 months.

Fines

- Credit: Archant

Motorists have paid out £404, 262 in fines for driving through the bus lanes on St Stephen's Street and Rampant Horse Street from December 2015 until September 2016.

Some 16,580 penalty charge notices (PCNs) have been issued, resulting in hundreds of thousands of pounds being paid in under a year. Traffic, aside from buses, emergency vehicles, taxis , bicycles and some business deliveries, were banned from using the two streets and from crossing Red Lion Street via Westlegate in 2014.

Cameras were then installed on the two streets in October 2015 but due to a problem with the council's computer system fines didn't begin to be issued until December 2015.

Some £149,407 was collected from drivers in the bus lane on Rampant Horse Street and £254,855 from St Stephen's Street, figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request showed.


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£37,895 was the most paid in a single month, for those caught on St Stephen's Street in July 2016, more than eight times the smallest amount of £4,230 collected in December 2015 for those caught on Rampant Horse Street.

The council said amounts fluctuated in some months because of a delay in payments.

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The penalty notices are £60, cut to £30 if paid within 14 days.

There have been 25 appeals against the fines with 14 being successful.

A spokesman for First Eastern Counties bus company, which operates routes through the city, said: 'If cars and other motor vehicles disregard bus lane restrictions, it can have a considerable impact on how reliable bus services are and how frustrating and difficult it makes the journey for our drivers and customers especially when travelling along a dedicated bus lane corridor.

'We support all action taken by the authority to manage illegal use of bus lanes'.

Mel Harbour, 59, of Dereham, was issued a fine in September after driving through the bus lane on Rampant Horse Street. He said: 'Clearer signs would help. It's too easy money isn't it. I think it's scandalous. The city council need to do something about the signage.' Norwich City Council said the money would be put back into parking and transport for the city.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: 'Put simply, this is not a profiteering exercise, it's a self-balancing system.

'Any surplus – which ends up being a small proportion of the overall PCN-generated income after all the costs are taken out – is driven straight back to the county council as the highways authority for it to fund various highways projects in Norwich.

'To give an example – from December 2015 to March 2016 PCNs totalled around £170,000 – of this there was about a £19,000 surplus which was ploughed straight back to the county council for other important highways projects.'

On December 5 cameras came into effect on the bus lane on Albion Way, at Norwich's Riverside Retail Park, as part of an earlier agreement between the city council and county council to monitor any misuse.

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