A MAJOR review of bus lanes has been launched which will run for more than seven months.

The move follows criticism from motorists unhappy at being fined for straying into bus-only lanes.

But roads bosses insist the review is not linked to the criticism or to a petition calling on them to re-think a strategy which sees drivers fined around the clock, even when there are no buses on the road.

The review will be the first in-depth study of bus lanes since they were introduced in Glasgow 24 years ago.

It could result in more bus lanes, their hours of operation being changed or restrictions scrapped.

Until 2012, bus lanes were enforced by the police but their role was taken over by Glasgow City Council and, in April that year, 11 enforce-ment cameras were switched on.

There are now 16 CCTV cameras monitoring bus lanes with 11 operating 24 hours a day. Most bus lanes are not monitored by cameras.

Council bosses insist the lanes are needed to keep public transport moving and that in the past year the number of drivers being hit with fines has fallen by up to 54%, proving they are working.

City council land and environment spokesman Alistair Watson said a review of how the lanes operate is necessary as the city has changed dramatically in the past two decades.

At present there are 173 bus lanes or bus priority measures, 12 miles of peak- period bus lanes and eight miles of 24-hour bus lanes.

Mr Watson said: "All the traffic orders we carry out require review but this is an extensive review of the whole network.

"The city has changed quite significantly. For example, the East End of Glasgow is an extensive part of the city which didn't exist in its present form 24 years ago when bus lanes were introduced.

"And the new Southern General is a new challenge for us as it is effectively a new town with 11,000 staff who are going to have to be catered for by public transport. Work has also started on a major housing development in Sighthill in the north of the city.

"There are lots of challenges ahead and I think it is right for us to do this review and right for it to be thorough.

"Bus lanes play a major role in Glasgow's transport network and are vitally important in keeping the city moving.

"They improve the flow of traffic on a number of congested stretches and increase the reliability of bus journeys on some key routes.

"I have instructed officers to carry out our most thorough review yet which will take us up to the end of the year.

"This will ensure that not only do they serve their intended purpose but also balance the needs of all the city's road users.

"It is important we work to ensure public transport services are given priority and this is respected by the majority of drivers.

"The review will analyse how this policy is benefitting the city and if there is scope for improvement."

LAST year, the number of bus lane fines issued in North Hanover Street fell from 13,148 to 6045 - a drop of 54%.

And in Great Western Road/Cleveden Road, the figure was down from 11,471 to 5474 - a drop of 52%.

Mr Watson said: "We wanted to achieve changes in behaviour and when you see some of the substantial drop in numbers, we are achieving what we set out to do."

Roads boss Andy Waddell said he cannot foresee a time when bus lanes will not be needed.

He said: "Last year, Liverpool suspended all their bus lanes and it seems to have been a unmitigated disaster.

"We will look at Liverpool's experience and the exper-ience of areas elsewhere but we definitely think bus lanes are necessary to keep the city moving."