POLICE have insufficient officers to enforce the city’s bus lanes, while the number of drivers being prosecuted is dropping, according to the convener of Lothian and Borders Police Board.
In 2009 700 drivers were caught cheating traffic jams by using city bus lanes, but this fell by 100 last year and with 500 caught by police by the end of October this year another fall could be on the cards for 2011, despite major investment in cracking down on the problem.
The police board’s convener, Conservative councillor Iain Whyte, today said there were not enough officers to catch anything like the number who commit the offence, while road safety campaigners said it was crucial drivers took responsibility for their own actions.
Mr Whyte said: “My own experience says a lot more than 600 people are doing this.
“Some bus lanes people do ignore completely.
“I would certainly like to see more of a focus on it.
“It can be quite frustrating for drivers, to see people abusing these rules.
“Part of the problem with policing our roads is we don’t have the officers.”
Drivers who do get caught face a fine of up to £60, although they do not receive points on their licence.
Some campaigners have called for cameras similar to those found in other UK cities to be installed, which would automatically catch drivers, but critics feel there are already too many restrictions on the Capital’s roads.
Edinburgh City Council is looking at plans to take over control of bus lane enforcement from the police, introducing cameras at five “hotspots” around the city.
The camera system would cost around £600,000 a year to run, funded by the fines imposed.
The council launched the search for a contractor to carry out the work earlier this year.
Councillors cited Aberdeen as an example of where the system works, bringing in tens of thousands of pounds in fines.
Cllr Whyte said there was scope for an awareness campaign but cameras were also an option. He said: “Bus lane cameras, and they apparently have worked elsewhere. Maybe that is the way around this issue.”
Road safety campaigner George Vine, from the Edinburgh and District Group of Advanced Motorists, said: “It’s frustrating because bus lanes should only be used at certain times.
“It is important that people adhere to this and police are the people you would expect to impose these regulations.”
No-one from Lothian and Borders Police was available for comment.