30,000 drivers caught on Fishergate bus lane in Preston in 12 months
Startling new figures show 30,738 tickets have been issued in the past 12 months to vehicles illegally using the 50-metre strip of asphalt.
It is now reckoned this short stretch of Preston’s premier shopping street has earned the county council in excess of £2m - possibly much more - since the cameras were first switched on back in 2016.
“I just don’t understand it,” said Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport.
“I’m really disappointed because we’ve done everything we possibly can to warn people, yet they’re still driving down there in large numbers.”
The latest statistics come despite a continuing publicity campaign to drive home the message.
Almost 600 a week are still being clocked on the strip reserved for just buses and black cabs.
Drivers have been getting Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) through the post for £60 - reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Even if everyone paid up within the discount deadline, the income over 12 months from the start of May 2018 to the end of April this year tops £920,000.
Added to tickets issued prior to that period - and the unclaimed cash from 21,000 motorists who failed to claim back fines under the original scheme which was scrapped because warning signs were judged to be inadequate - the total figure raised by the number plate cameras reaches a conservative £2m.
Coun Yousuf Motala, who represents Preston city centre at County Hall, said: “I can’t understand for the life of me why people aren’t getting this. It’s only 50 metres of road and the signs are pretty prominent.
“Maybe they think they will take a chance and hope they get away with it. Not everyone can claim they didn’t know it was a bus lane.
“I’ve been an opponent of this scheme since the start, but it’s set in stone now and we have to accept it’s there.
“It’s been bringing in some serious money since it started - I dread to think how much. But what’s it being used for?
“It’s supposed to be pumped back into improving the roads, but I don’t see any evidence of that in my part of Preston.”
Coun Iddon insisted all the revenue from the bus lane - and a second one at Broughton in the north of the city - was being invested back into making the county’s road network safer.
“What do drivers not understand about this bus lane?” he said. “These statistics are baffling.
“I would have expected by now, after all the publicity it has had, that only a handful of motorists would still be getting caught. But 30,000 in 12 months is unbelievable.
“I’m so disappointed. I can only assume that people are choosing to ignore it and driving through thinking they won’t get caught. Well, they will.
“We introduced this bus lane in Fishergate to ease congestion in the city centre and improve the air quality. And that has happened.
“I would have said 12 months ago that people were still getting used to it. But not now.
“I would rather we didn’t make any money out of this. That would mean we had got the message across.”
800 drivers overcharged
Around 800 drivers were overcharged on their bus lane “fines” following a recent computer ticketing glitch, County Hall has admitted.The Post revealed the IT error this week after one motorist said he had been hit with a demand for £90 for “late payment” despite not receiving a PCN in the first place.Now the county council has confirmed the full scale of the problem and promised to refund the difference for drivers affected by it.“We estimate that around 800 cases have been affected by this ICT issue,” said a spokesman. “But we have already reduced the charge to £30 in more than half of these cases.“The team who look after the PCNs are calling, or have already, everyone who has been issued with a £90 fine in error, to let them know that it will be reset to £30.“A number of people had already paid the £90 without contacting us, and we are refunding them £60.”The driver who revealed the error said he received a demand for £90 last week for an offence he committed back in March.“I didn’t get the original ticket, so I phoned and told the council that,” he said. “I was told that there had been a problem with mailing out some penalty notices over a period.“If I had received the ticket in the first place I would have paid up within the 14 days to get the discount. But I never got the chance and then I was hit with a £90 bill.”