DRIVERS have been hit with fines totalling nearly £3 million from one bus lane enforcement camera since it was installed last year, Glasgow City Council has revealed.
The device, which may be Scotland’s most lucrative traffic enforcer, is designed to deter motorists from using a one-way system through Nelson Mandela Place and West George Street in the city centre.
The previously-congested section passes Queen Street Station and is the only eastbound entrance to George Square.
Figures for up to Monday showed the camera has caught 69,013 errant drivers since it was switched on at the end of last June, although numbers have dropped dramatically since then.
The monthly total has fallen from 16,752 over its first month of operation to 2,334 last month, although that was up on a low of 1,996 in June.
The council said 44,000 of the fines had been paid to date.
Many of these had been reduced from £60 to £30 because they were settled within two weeks. That means at least £1.3m of fine revenue has been generated already.
However, a council spokesman said all outstanding fines would be pursued, and passed to a debt recovery agency if necessary. If all are paid, that would be produce another £1.5m.
Bus lane fines paid across Glasgow totalled £1.6m last year and £1.2m in the first half of 2015. This compares to nearly £3.3m in 2013.
Unlike speed-camera fines, which go the UK Treasury, those from the bus lane cameras are retained by the city council for transport improvements.
The camera is understood to have improved bus flow through the previous bottleneck for the city’s main operator First Glasgow.
Alistair Watson, the city council’s executive member for sustainability and transport, said: “One of the aims of the ‘bus gate’ is to reduce the number of vehicles travelling through the city centre, while improving provision for public transport. There is always a period of adjustment when new restrictions are introduced.
“It’s clear from the reduction in offences that drivers are aware of the bus lanes and have modified the route they take.
“The number of offences has dropped significantly and hopefully we will see even further reductions.”
The council said seven permanent signs had been erected in advance to warn drivers that the bus gate was operational.
It said: “They are clearly visible on Hope Street, West George Street, West Nile Street and at Nelson Mandela Place.”
However, the Institute of Advanced Motorists urged it to do even more to guide drivers away from the bus lanes.
Neil Greig, its Scotland-based policy and research director, said: “It is good news the number of drivers caught out is going down, but over 2,000 tickets a month is still far too high.
“The site still needs to be constantly reviewed to find ways to bring the number of contraventions down to that of most other bus lanes.
“For the IAM, the ideal bus lane camera is still one that is so clear in its operation that it catches no one.
“Until we get to that point, many drivers will continue to believe they are only there to be a ‘nice little earner’ for the council.”