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Bus lane enforcement begins on Monday
The finishing touches have now been put in place for the launch of Aberdeen City Council's bus lane enforcement on Monday [25 March].
The enforcement cameras are all in place on strategic routes across the city, have been tested, and are fully operational. New lining and signing is in place where required and existing road markings and signs have been refreshed. The final piece in the jigsaw the installation and testing of the back room monitoring equipment, where offences are recorded and checked, is also complete.
Aberdeen City Council has taken over responsibility for enforcing bus lanes, and enforcement begins on Monday.
The penalty for motorists driving in bus lanes has been set at £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. The council is allowing motorists a grace period and anyone caught flouting the rules in that time will receive a warning letter instead of a charge notice. Repeat offenders, however, will be fined.
The only vehicles allowed to use the bus lanes are buses, taxis, private licensed hire vehicles and bicycles. Emergency service vehicles can use them only when responding to an emergency.
Eleven digital cameras have been installed on strategic routes across the city to tackle the growing problem of illegal use of the bus lanes. The cameras are being tested ahead of the launch on Monday. During one day of testing, when only four cameras were being used, 1,200 offences were detected.
Aberdeen City Council was granted authority to carry out the civil enforcement of bus lanes after submitting a business case to the Scottish Government. The main objectives are to improve traffic flow, journey times, encourage the use of public transport, and improve air quality in the city.
The following fact pack answers many questions you may have about bus lane enforcement:
Q. What are bus lanes?
A. Bus lanes are sections of road which are specifically for the use of buses, taxis, licensed private hire cars and bicycles. They are identified by white markings on the road and are sign posted.
Q. Why are they needed?
A. Without bus lanes, buses and other vehicles used for public transport would be stuck in traffic and unable to provide a reliable service. They are needed to ensure the smooth running of public transport services.
Bus lanes help to tackle congestion, as well as improve public transport journey times and reliability.
Bus lanes have helped the flow of public transport since they were first implemented in Union Street in 1992. Aberdeen City Council has sought to introduce bus lanes where they are needed to provide faster and more consistent bus journey times.
Almost one in 10 people in Aberdeen use the bus to get to work and about 20 million bus journeys are made in the city annually.
Almost a third of city households don't own a car and at least another third of the population does not always have access to a car.
Q. What are the benefits?
A. Better journey times
Longer bus journey times may require bus operators to invest significantly in more vehicles and drivers to keep the same frequency of service for passengers. The cost of meeting this investment is likely to result in increased fares. Bus lanes help reduce journey times and fare increases
Better services and increased likelihood that more people will use public transport, leading to a drop in the number of vehicles on the road and improved air quality.
Q. Who can use them?
A. Buses, taxis, licensed private hire cars and pedal cycles.
Q. Why not just get rid of the bus lanes and cut congestion by opening up more lanes to all traffic?
A. Junctions, rather than the number of lanes on the approach to the junction, limit the capacity of a route. Bus lanes always stop short of the junction to allow all vehicles to get into the correct lane and do not reduce capacity at the junction.
If a roundabout has capacity to allow 18 vehicles per minute to pass through and there are 180 vehicles in a queue, it will take 10 minutes for them all to get through the junction. If there were three lanes on the approach to the junction, the queue could extend to 60 cars in each lane. A bus approaching would have to join the end of the queue and wait 10 minutes to get through the junction.
However, where one lane is designated as a bus lane, the bus does not need to join the end of the queue, but can proceed to the point where the bus lane ends, saving waiting time.
As long as the junction capacity remains at 18 vehicles per minute, it still takes vehicles not using the bus lane the same 10 minutes to progress, but a bus journey time can be cut substantially.
So, although the length of the queue for other vehicles is longer (in this example to two lanes each of up to 90 cars), their journey time remains the same. This longer queue and seemingly under used bus lane can give the wrong impression, but are actually a great advertisement encouraging greater use of the bus. If some drivers do decide to change to using bus, car journeys would be shortened.
Q. Where are the bus lanes and how will motorists know when they can or can't drive in them?
A. There are bus lanes on strategic routes across the city. All of them are clearly sign posted and are defined by thick white lines and the words "BUS LANE" painted on the road.
Q. Where are the bus lane cameras?
A. There are 11 digital bus lane enforcement camera sites as follows: King St x 4, Wellington Road x 1, Holburn St x 2, Old Lang Stracht x 1, North Donside Road x 1, Great Northern Road x 1, and Auchmill Road x 1. A mobile bus lane enforcement camera will also be used where concerns are raised over the illegal use of bus lanes.
Q. Why aren't all bus lanes in operation 24/7?
A. The operating hours of bus lanes under Aberdeen City Council control have been set to ensure that they are in use during the peak traffic periods when the need is greatest, and open to all traffic at other times.
Q. When can motorists drive in bus lanes, and when are they not allowed to?
A. Bus lanes on Wellington Road, Great Northern Road, North Donside Road, King Street, Queen's Road, Skene Road, Great Western Road, Ellon Road, Parkway East, Scotstown Road, Provost Watt Drive and Lang Stracht are in operation from 7.30am to 9.30am and from 4pm to 6pm Monday to Saturday.
Bus lanes on Auchmill Road are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bus lanes on Union Street operate from 8am to 9.30am; 12.30pm to 2.30pm and 4.30pm to 6pm Monday to Saturday.
Bus lanes on Holburn Street operate from 8am to 9.30am and 4pm to 6pm Monday to Saturday.
Outwith these times, all vehicles can use the bus lanes.
Q. Why enforce bus lanes?
A. Enforcing bus lanes will:
Improve the free flow of permitted traffic in bus lanes which are becoming increasingly congested as a result of motorists flouting the rules;
Increase the reliability of bus services and improve journey times;
Make buses a more attractive option for travel;
Improve road safety inappropriate bus lane use can present a safety risk to cyclists and other authorised bus lane users.
Improve air quality by reducing the number of cars on the roads;
Bus lane surveys carried out in 2011 showed a considerable increase the violations recorded across the city, from approximately 300 violations per month (recorded by Grampian Police in 2007) to more than 10,000 violations per month.
Q. How does it work?
A. The enforcement system is based on automatic number plate recognition technology. When a vehicle enters the enforcement zone, a camera reads the number plate and determines whether or not is on the approved list of vehicles.
If the registration number is not on the approved list, the system generates an evidence pack containing a video clip of the vehicle in the bus lane. An enforcement officer views the evidence pack and a Charge Notice (CN) is issued to the registered keeper of the vehicle if it has been in the bus lane illegally.
Q. What is the penalty?
A. £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Q. When does enforcement begin?
A. Monday, March 25. Warning letters will be issued instead of CNs for a short introductory period, but motorists who repeatedly flout the law during that period will be fined.
Q. How can motorists avoid getting a fine?
A. Pay attention to road signs and markings, which clearly state the start and end of bus lanes and highlight the hours of operation. Don't drive in the bus lanes when you shouldn't be in them. Avoid the fine don't cross the bus lane line.
What do I do if I get a charge notice for being in a bus lane?
Pay the fine. Failure to pay within 28 days of the (CN) being issued will result in the fine increasing to £90.
Q. Will targets be set?
A. No. Only those who are detected illegally using the bus lanes will receive a fine.
Q. Where does the money go?
A. The money will be used to pay for the installation, upkeep and running of the system. Any surplus income from fines will be reinvested in Local Transport Strategy schemes to improve Aberdeen's transport network.
Q. Isn't this just another tax on the motorist?
A. Absolutely not. The only people who will be penalised by the re-introduction of bus lane enforcement in Aberdeen are those who break the rules.
Q. People will get to know where the cameras are and start dodging them. How are you going to deal with that?
A. A mobile bus lane enforcement camera will be used in areas where problems are noted.
Q. Can private minibuses and coaches use the bus lanes?
A. Yes. People carriers, however, are not authorised to use the bus lanes.