GLASGOW'S bus lanes are intended to improve the lives of local residents by combating congestion on city roads and improving public transport routes – but unpopular fines for motorists mean the lanes are not a hit with everybody.
As reported last week in the Evening Times, new CCTV cameras installed at 11 bus routes in the city have snared almost 40,000 motorists who have broken the law by driving into bus lanes.
The monitoring equipment, at busy streets such as North Hanover Street, Hope Street, Cathedral Street, Argyle Street and Victoria Road, captures an image of the licence plate of any vehicle which veers into a bus lane and generates an automatic £60 fixed penalty notice for the driver.
The cameras have already netted Glasgow City Council £530,000 in the first 11 weeks of the "Avoid the fine, don't cross the line" campaign, and this should rise to at least £1.1m when all outstanding fines are paid.
John Rankin, 60, a support worker from Springburn, frequently travels by bus around the city and does not believe issuing penalties is doing anything to deter drivers from breaking the rules.
He said: "I avoid driving in the town if I can, I've got a bus pass and I use it.
"These fines are supposed to keep the lanes clear to improve safety and traffic, but I don't think it's working.
"I really don't see it making a great deal of difference; it just makes me not want to bring my car into town."
Jacqui Foy, 46, an accounts worker from Mount Vernon, believes the public transport system needs to be improved but does not think fines are the way to do it.
She said: "I think they've introduced it to allow the buses to get through quicker which is a good thing.
"At peak time it's a nightmare trying to get through the city centre.
"But I don't think it's very fair in certain places like Hope Street to fine people. People are driving in Glasgow who don't live here; they might not know about the rules and I don't think that's very fair."
The council have made it clear that they will not tolerate pleas of ignorance from motorists as lanes are clearly marked and the initiative was preceded with a month-long radio, billboard, newspaper and online campaign warning drivers of the fines.
Fiona Ferguson, a 45-year-old radiographer from Kilmarnock, is more positive about the initiative.
She said: "Improving public transport and encouraging people to use it is a good thing.
"Obviously if there are people driving in the lanes the buses don't travel as well as they should. I think the fines are a good idea."
Other city residents, like council worker Iain McCreaddie, 28, believe the idea of fines is a good one, but would like to see some details of the scheme clarified.
He said: "I think there does need to be a wee bit of thought put into it. I think at certain times of the day, like rush hour, it's fine, but there needs to be some discretion with it.
"I would hope it would persuade more people to get the bus if the bus routes were open and clear.
"Though if you're a driver and there are two lanes, you're coming up to traffic lights, you want to turn left then I can see why it might make sense for some people to pull into a bus lane at that point."
These concerns have been echoed by Professor Stephen Glaister, director of motoring body the RAC Foundation, who has called for a review of fines issued to drivers performing left turns into and out of the main traffic flow.
He said: "While there are strict rules governing bus lane signs and lines, there may be a case on some roads to look at junction designs in more detail."
Some motorists we spoke to, including Elizabeth Pringle, a 50-year-old cleaner from Drumoyne, agreed with fines in principle but believe they should only be issued at certain times of the day.
She said: "Sometimes you can't avoid being in a bus lane, if that's the case I don't think people should be fined.
"There are other places which have introduced these lanes and fines but they only operate at certain times. I think that's the way it should work here."
Aidan McGhie, 18, a roofer from Maryhill, disagrees with the penalties and is more cynical about the council's motivations for introducing them.
He said: "I think it's shocking. It seems like just another way to make money; I don't see it improving congestion in the town centre. I can't see any other reason to bring this in, there's money in everything."