City orders buslane fines probe

NEW city chiefs have ordered an urgent review of Edinburgh’s controversial bus lane enforcement system.

Council officials have been handed a deadline of the beginning of next week to deliver their findings and swift action is expected to follow after thousands of motorists were handed £60 fines.

The review comes after a series of revelations in the Evening News since cameras, which were intended to stop drivers clogging up the city’s Greenways, went active on April 23.

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Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader-elect, said: “We all know there have been difficulties. We have been listening to people and there is a problem.

“We all realise the reasons for putting in the cameras and support the principle of preventing the misuse of the city’s bus lanes by general traffic.

“But I have concerns, as do the public and other councillors, about how the policy has been implemented.”

The review will look into why so many drivers are being caught. Early estimates had predicted that 4000 drivers a year would be clocked, but more than 4500 were handed fines in the first six days.

It will also examine the times at which drivers are being caught after we revealed how city motorist Janice Warnes received a penalty notice after driving in a lane three seconds before the cameras were supposed to turn on.

Signage will be another aspect looked at.

Cllr Hinds added: “We have listened to what the public are saying and we want to address this as quickly as possible.

“We have asked what the teething problems have been and also challenged officials to come up with some solutions. The policy is about encouraging more of us on to public transport, it’s not about money-making.

“We have asked for the review and I don’t want to make judgements until I get it back and we know the extent of the problem. We’ll have it by the beginning of the week and action will be taken promptly.”

The high number of people being caught meant that some drivers did not receive fines until two-and-a-half weeks after they had driven in Greenways.

One private hire driver was fined 30 times within the first two weeks of the cameras going live. A total of 82 motorists were fined five times or more within the first fortnight.

A series of drivers have complained that they have been caught out despite being in the lanes for a matter of seconds as they prepare to turn off roads.

Yesterday, we told how residents of Willowbrae Avenue were being fined every day as they turned into their street.

Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, welcomed news of the review. He said: “I think it’s a very positive move and is not before time. It’s been unfortunate that because of the election there hasn’t been anyone who can get people together to sort this out. Something has gone wrong and they need to get a handle on it. ”