NEW bus lane cameras intended to crack down on motorists cutting through the Greenways are causing traffic chaos, critics claimed today.
Traffic jams and congestion have increased around many of the ten cameras in operation since enforcement began last week, according to road users.
Desperate to avoid the £60 fines, motorists are steering clear of the Greenways altogether even when the cameras are not in operation.
Waiting times of between ten and 15 minutes have been reported by retailers at the double camera site in the Willowbrae area of east Edinburgh, while drivers have been delayed for between five and ten minutes on the approach to Leith Street.
Lengthy queues have also been reported at Cameron Toll/Dalkeith Road.
Edinburgh has about 65km of Greenways and, as of April 23, the ten areas drivers cut into the most are now scrutinised by cameras linked to the central transport department.
Confusion stems from the fact that between the ten sites there are three different operational times, two of which also vary on Saturdays.
As a result, drivers appear to be shunning the bus lanes even when buses are not using them. Yesterday at Willowbrae Road, cars avoiding entering the Greenways could be seen holding up a line of buses.
Jim Boggon, 57, who runs the nearby Northfield Post Office with daughter Gaynor, said there had been a huge increase in traffic jams since the scheme began last Monday.
He said: “Everyone used to drive through the bus lanes but, as a result, the flow of traffic was constant so the buses weren’t held up.
“Now the drivers don’t use the bus lanes and there’s massive tailbacks from Duddingston Crossroads, stretching all the way down Willowbrae Road. Even the buses get caught up before the bus lane starts.”
As the Evening News reported on Saturday, about 5000 fines have been handed out already, netting the council around £300,000 in a single week. Transport chiefs had originally expected to hand out 4000 every year.
Angelo Lordi, 50, who runs Giuliano’s restaurant opposite the Playhouse, said the queues were longer since the new camera was installed at Leith Street.
He added: “If I drive from my home in Corstorphine there’s a bus lane with one set of times, then if I go to get supplies at The Jewel the system is different, and then the bus lanes at the top of the street are different still. It’s very confusing.”
Craig Finlay, 36, who commutes from Dalkeith to the city centre each day and received three warning letters during the three-week trial period, said the new system was inflexible.
He said: “Every bus lane has different characteristics and times of operation, and drivers are going to be caught out. I just see the whole thing as being a stealth tax.”
Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Edinburgh City Council shouldn’t really be putting in something which causes more congestion – that’s not good planning.
“If drivers are avoiding the bus lanes altogether they [the council] need to step up to the mark quickly and reassure people that the cameras only operate in agreement with the signposting.”
Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s outgoing transport leader who introduced the scheme, said: “It will take a few weeks to bed in, but there are large signs which give the times of operation.”
WHERE AND WHEN TO STEER CLEAR
A71 at Calder Junction: Mon-Fri 7.30am-6.30pm and Sat 8.30am-6.30pm
Calder Road before Bankhead Avenue: Mon-Fri 7.30am-6:30pm & Sat 8.30am-6:30pm
Prestonfield: Mon-Sun 24hrs
The Jewel: Mon-Sun 24hrs
Leith Street/Picardy Place: Mon-Fri 7.30am-9.30am & 4pm-630pm
Willowbrae Road at the Duddingston Crossroads: Mon-Fri 7.30am-9.30am & 4pm-6.30pm
Willowbrae Road at Jock’s Lodge (inbound): Mon-Fri 7.30am-9.30am & 4pm-6:30pm
London Road at Jock’s Lodge (outbound): Mon-Fri 7.30am-9:30am & 4pm-6:30pm
North Bridge: Mon-Fri 7.30am-9.30am & 4pm-6.30pm
Old Dalkeith Road at Cameron Toll: Mon-Fri 7.30am-9:30am & 4pm-6.30pm