NEW CCTV BLITZ ON THE CITY'S BUS LANE BANDITS Drivers will be tracked and face a £60 fine

vehicles illegally using bus lanes will be tracked across Glasgow by hi-tech cameras and offenders will be punished with £60 fines.

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From April, the city council will, for the first time, have the power to enforce the payment.

The camera reads the number plates of vehicles that enter the bus lanes and they are then checked against a list of approved vehicles.

The list contains vehicle registration numbers of buses, taxis and private hire cars allowed to travel in bus lanes.

If the number is not on the approved list, the system compiles an evidence dossier containing a video clip of the vehicle.

It is encrypted and sent to a council enforcement officer through the 3G mobile phone network.

Until now, only the police have had the power to fine drivers who misuse bus lanes, but a change in the law means councils can now apply for the power.

The enforcement officer will decide if an offence has occurred and a letter will be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle demanding payment of a £60 fixed penalty fine, which is reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

The letter will include images of the car in the bus lane to cut the number of times the fines are challenged.

The cameras will be placed in North Hanover Street, Glassford Street, Hope Street, West George Street, Duke Street, Cathedral Street, Maryhill Road, Argyle Street, Great Western Road and Victoria Road.

Council bosses decided to fix the bus lane charge at the same rate as parking tickets.

A council spokesman said: "To set the rate any lower may engender public perception that a bus lane contravention is a lesser offence than a parking contravention and result in a lower level of compliance."

The change to the law, giving power to councils, took place last month at the Scottish Parliament.

A Glasgow City Council report last year predicted bus lane fines would earn £250,000 in the first year, which would be spent on transport infrastructure.

Jim Coleman, council spokesman for land and environment, said: "The drivers who abuse bus lanes are inconsiderate.

"They inconvenience others and also threaten the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.

"We have long believed civil enforcement with cameras will help drive down the number of offences in Glasgow – as it has elsewhere – and allow the city to better respond to the problems created by the abuse of bus lanes.

"Introducing these regulations will improve the flow of traffic on a number of congested stretches and improve the reliability of bus journey on some key routes. What we are ultimately looking for is to help make buses a more attractive option for people.

"More people using public transport will have a positive impact on lowering emissions and air quality."

Mr COLEMAN added: "This enforcement is not about making money for the council. The scheme is designed to be self-funding, with any surplus income used for local transport initiatives.

"We realise this is a new scheme for the city and we are not trying to catch people out.

"We are planning a month-long public awareness campaign to highlight the introduction of the scheme and will be issuing warning letters instead of charge notices for the first two weeks of the campaign."

The scheme co-incides with the launch of "quality bus corridors", which will result in only low emission, low floor buses being allowed to travel along the main roads into and out of the city centre.

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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Local government

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