AROUND 5000 motorists have already been fined for driving in Edinburgh’s bus lanes – in the space of a matter of days.
The new spy cameras caught 1061 vehicles illegally driving in the city’s Greenways on Monday, the first day they went active.
It is understood that a similar number were caught each day throughout the week, potentially netting the council up to £300,000 in fines.
Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s transport leader, said the figures reflected the scale of the problem in Edinburgh and said some drivers had been using the lanes as “private express routes” for too long.
But motoring groups expressed dismay at the number of fines that were dished out and said they feared drivers may be getting caught for inadvertently violating rules or for minor infractions.
Those who have been fined face being taken to court or a bailiff visit if they do not pay the £60 fine, which is reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks.
Cllr Mackenzie said: “I don’t think the council will end up making a lot of money – I expect the numbers will drop off by 75 to 80 per cent.
“When these fines start landing on people’s doorsteps I think there will be a big change in behaviour and the level of income won’t be anything near what it is in the first week.”
The amount recouped in the first five days will go a long way to paying the £293,000 cost of setting up the scheme and the £120,000 bill to run it annually. Council chiefs have said any surplus will go towards road and transport infrastructure.
The council claims that fining motorists who illegally use Greenways will improve the efficiency of bus services, benefit the environment and improve safety for cyclists.
Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he was “surprised and disappointed” to learn how many had been caught out.
He said: “I’m not convinced the signs are as good as they could be. If they continue to catch thousands of drivers they need to make sure people know what’s going on.
“Based on my personal experience, it’s isolated vehicles that break the rules – but that’s an awful lot of isolated vehicles.”
It has emerged that drivers with foreign registrations will not be fined, while fines will be waived for foreigners driving in hire cars in the Capital.
Brian McDowall, a spokesman for the Association of British Motorists, said: “By putting in bus lanes they created the problem. Catching more than 1000 motorists a day is clearly revenue raising.”
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