Comment: Penalties must be applied with discretion

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when the city introduced bus lane cameras 18 months ago, we were prepared to give the idea the benefit of the doubt.

Many claimed they were simply a way for a cash-strapped council to collect some extra cash. Once they were in, the critics warned, every car whose wheel strayed into a Greenway would be hit with a £60 fine. No excuses would be 
accepted.

But we recognised the frustration of sitting in a queue of traffic and watching other motorists using the bus lane to jump the queue. And we recognised the benefits of keeping the Greenways clear so that the buses keep 
moving.

And we listened to assurances that it would not all descend into a money-making exercise for the local authority. This was supposed to be about fair play and keeping the bus lanes clear.

The refusal now to allow any exemptions to cars entering a Greenway does not meet up with those standards.

There is nothing fair about fining drivers £60 for slipping in and out of an empty bus lane to get past another vehicle which is 
waiting to turn right.

How can that possibly hold up any buses when there are no buses on the road? And how can it possibly be cheating the system when it is not jumping past a queue but simply keeping the traffic moving?

We said 18 months ago when the bus lane cameras were introduced that the true test of the system would be the way in which it was policed.

As the AA says today, penalties need to be applied with discretion. The city will no doubt argue that it cannot allow exceptions without creating a free-for-all.

But surely some commmon sense is possible. A system that cannot distinguish between an honest manouvre on an empty Greenway and a driver that queue jumps or genuinely creates congestion is not fit for purpose.