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Tough new bus lane enforcement:

Tough new bus lane enforcement: A better way to clear congestion

Auckland City Council will on Monday, 3 March 2003 introduce special new enforcement measures to keep cars out of bus lanes.

Any driver who illegally travels in a bus lane during peak traffic hours will be fined $150.

The council has assigned 12 parking officers who have been specially trained by a certified police trainer and who are certified by the Commissioner of Police. It is the first time that parking officers will be allowed to directly impose fines for a moving traffic violation in Auckland City.

This major campaign aims to make travel by bus quicker and more reliable and will protect buses from the effects of growing traffic congestion.

The enforcement effort is being supported by an extensive advertising campaign using newspapers, radio, the internet and signs on buses and bus shelters.

The enforcement is simple: any driver illegally travelling more than 50 metres down the lanes during peak hours (from 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm) will be observed by parking officers stationed on the side of the road, backed up by video cameras. For breaking the traffic rules, the motorist will receive a $150 fine by post and will have up to 28 days to pay.

Council surveys show an average car compliance with the bus lane law as good as 95% in some locations, but as low as 55% at others where almost half of the vehicles on the road drive in the bus lane (see surveys results below).

“The bus/bike lanes are working well, but they could be working even better if everyone plays fair and sticks to their own lanes. We don’t want the lanes’ benefits eroded by the minority who drive on them illegally,” says Auckland City’s parking services manager Wes Hogman.

Mr. Hogman says: “We will be delighted if we don’t hand out any fines at all. The idea is to increase the compliance rate and get the buses moving as efficiently as possible”.

Mr. Hogman says the council is hoping for results similar to those from a North Shore City initiative started last year. On Onewa Road, the initiative has nearly halved morning peak travel times for general traffic. Meanwhile, bus travellers have seen their travel time reduced from half an hour to about five minutes. Enforcement officers have now noticed that as few as 10 vehicles per day are now driving in the bus lane, down from an initial 600 per day.

Auckland City is convinced that not only will greater enforcement give buses a faster turnaround, but it will induce more people to use buses.

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