About 3-4 years ago a herald staff member was caught driving in a bus lane kicking off a campaign enforcement of them. Now at least every year the Herald publishes a story looking at how many have been fined and that appeared in the herald yesterday.
Motorists have paid $5.3 million in fines over three years for driving illegally in Auckland’s bus and car-pooling lanes – and owe a lot more.
Auckland Transport has issued more than 62,000 tickets for abuse of lanes reserved for high-occupancy vehicles since becoming a council body in November 2010.
But it has waived about 16,000 of those for technical or legal reasons, or in acknowledgment of special circumstances such as medical emergencies, and collected $150 fines from more than 35,000 vehicle owners or drivers.
That leaves about 11,000 fines outstanding, and in the hands of debt-collectors.
As the post title says, this is a voluntary tax. Bus lanes and transit lanes are marked and if you’re driving in a bus lane then you should expect a fine. I do find it interesting though that the herald are now aggregating the figures over three years, perhaps the number of tickets issued in 2013 was lower than in the past and it wouldn’t have made as good a story. That thought is reinforced by the comments about bus lane infringment on the North Shore.
The number of tickets issued on North Shore roads jumped more than sixfold from 131 in July to 826 in August. It almost doubled again to 1598 in October, before falling to 970 in November.
Auckland Transport says that followed warnings to motorists in suburban newspaper advertising in early August that it was about to resume enforcement in lanes after improving what it found to have been deficient signs inherited from the former North Shore City Council.
The previous surge in tickets has alarmed Auckland Council member George Wood, even though he was a strong advocate of transit lanes while serving as a North Shore mayor.
Mr Wood, who chairs the council’s regional strategy and policy committee, suspected Auckland Transport might be picking on North Shore motorists “to make sure they can make up their budget requirements”.
“This smacks of a revenue-gathering performance,” he said of the North Shore blitz.
I remember seeing people on social media complaining that there wasn’t any enforcement being done and that lots of people were abusing the transit lanes. So it seems AT did the right thing, fixed signage and started enforcing the lanes again based on the article went above and beyond by advertising that they would be doing it. Enforcing bus/transit lanes is exactly what I would expect them to be doing as without enforcement they quickly become a joke and abused by many who see it as a way to leapfrog the other drivers who are obeying the rules. That the number of tickets issued went down again in November suggests that perhaps the message started getting through.
Far from accusing Auckland Transport of revenue gathering he should be praising them collecting the money from people who clearly are donating extra money to the city thereby helping keep rates low.
The article also points out that Grafton Bridge no longer seems to be a hot point for tickets with the number issued dropping although we don’t know if part of that was due to less enforcement as a staff focused on the North Shore.
Clearer signs declaring Grafton Bridge off-limits to general traffic on week days have led to a marked reduction in tickets issued for lane breaches in the CBD.
In November, 192 tickets were issued, against 1443 given 12 months earlier, according to figures given to the Herald by Auckland Transport.
My understanding is that AT spent millions on the new signs to stop people driving over Grafton Bridge when they shouldn’t be, probably more than they collected in fines. Some images of what the electronic signs look like are below. The first one (blue sign) is on the approach to the bridge while the second one is at the intersection itself.
That 192 tickets were still issued despite this level of signage shows that some people will continue to ignore the road rules or need to be paying a lot more attention when they’re driving. As I say, it’s a voluntary tax and there’s an easy way to avoid it.