Edinburgh bus lane fines: Tory councillor Marie-Clair Munro says 'If you double the fines, double the signs'

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New £100 fines for motorists who drive in bus lanes, but Tories claim problem with poor signage

A Tory councillor has hit out at increased penalties for motorists who drive in bus lanes, saying if the council “doubles the fines” it should “double the signs”.

Marie-Clair Munro, Conservative councillor for Morningside, claimed Edinburgh’s large number of penalty charge notices handed out for bus lane infringements could be down to a lack of signage. And she was backed by fellow Tory Christopher Cowdy who confessed that he had received bus lane fines himself and said he had not seen the signs.

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Edinburgh’s transport and environment committee agreed on Thursday to seek authority from the Scottish Government to increase the level of fines for driving in bus lanes from £60 to £100, reduced to £50 if paid within the first 14 days.

Under council plans, motorists who drive in bus lanes will face fines of £100, up from the current £60.Under council plans, motorists who drive in bus lanes will face fines of £100, up from the current £60.
Under council plans, motorists who drive in bus lanes will face fines of £100, up from the current £60.

Transport convener Scott Arthur previously cited a 20 per cent increase in the number of fines last year – raking in more than £2 million – as evidence that the current fine was not enough of a deterrent. A record 58,000 fines issued in 2021/22 increased to more than 70,000 in 2022/23.

But during the committee meeting, Cllr Munro asked: “Could this be down to a lack of signage? It has been highlighted by residents who have contacted me because there’s one at the West Approach Road that has seen people fined a considerable amount. If the council plans to double the fines, are you not maybe planning to double the signs?”

An official rejected the idea that a lack of signs was to blame. And he said: “We wouldn’t be planning to double the signs, but certainly we’ll make sure they’re right. If there are locations where you have concerns, please inform me and I’ll make sure they’re upgraded.”

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The official confirmed to Cllr Arthur that if signage was not clear or visible that would be grounds for appeal. And he revealed there were another three cameras “in the pipeline” which would increase the total number of cameras across the city to 35.

Cllr Cowdy, who represents Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, said it was the prospect of being caught that deterred people rather than the penalty they faced. And he admitted: “I have myself had bus fines and other fines, which I have paid, and one of the reasons was that I didn’t see the sign. I think the signs were regulation signs, but I still didn’t see them. Is the signage we use just minimum regulation signs? Have we done any work on increasing those signs above that which they need to be?”

The official said the council used standard signs in line with regulations, but added that when a new camera location was introduced there would be an initial campaign with additional signage to warn drivers.

A report to the committee said the current fine of £60, reduced to £30.00 if paid within 14 days, had not changed since the council began bus lane enforcement in 2012, but Transport Scotland had recently indicated they would be open to considering requests from councils who wished to vary the charge and Glasgow City Council had already written to the Transport Minister requesting an increase to £100.