Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Get Back from where you Don't Belong

Two news items from Coach & Bus Week caught my eye this week - and illustrate just how much of a challenge it is for bus operators to keep to schedule in the face of some ignorant motorists who believe the rules don't apply to them.
Our first example comes from Taunton.  Between September 2012 - April 2013 a staggering 9265 drivers were caught illegally using 2 bus gates. 1450 appealed, of which 169 were successful. These bus gates were introduced in 2005, so locals should be well aware of them. So I suppose we'd better prepare ourselves for the howls of derision from "motoring groups" - at least we can have a laugh at some more "excuses" as to why so many drivers have been caught doing this...
Next up, to our friends north of the border in Edinburgh, where the City Council is issuing around 100 fixed penalty notices to drivers in bus lanes around the City. Every day. Edinburgh has 5 mobile and 2 fixed devices.  C&BW continues that almost 6000 penalty notices were written off in May last year after a review concluded one of the cameras had been "poorly located" (but still seemingly catching people in the act?)
Birmingham has only just switched on its cameras in parts of the City Centre, and I understand that initial offenders will be receiving warning letters at first, before the full fines begin to be issued. And not a minute too soon in my book.
For too many years, I've seen scheme after scheme start up to give buses the advantage when it comes to congestion.
I've heard the most incredible comments from the motoring lobby refuting these schemes (including the old chestnut "why are we handing over parts of our roads to moneymaking bus companies?" - oh please...).
And I've witnessed how Transport for London has taken a no-messing approach to all of this - go in the bus lane and you'll pay dearly for it. Surprise, surprise, it works! Because its the only language some people understand. 
We need consistent joined - up thinking from the powers that be when it comes to making a real difference to traffic flow and congestion. I don't view buses through rose-tinted spectacles in these examples - I view them as the most efficient users of road space that can only operate most effectively if they can operate to their timetable reliably.  The likes of Eric Pickles and their double-yellow parking plans really need to think about the wider picture, not just the headlines they create. 
Carrot and stick is good. But only stick will work once all the carrots have been gobbled up. ...

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