A MINIBUS driver who transports severely disabled children to school has been hit with 27 fines for driving through bus lanes despite being assured by police that his vehicle was eligible.
Thomas Renwick is facing a £1620 bill after being captured driving down the Greenways on Calder Road nearly every day since the new cameras were brought in on April 23.
However, Mr Renwick insists he checked with officers at Wester Hailes police station two years ago and was told he could use the bus lanes.
The 53-year-old has been using the route since he bought a nine-seater Volkswagen Transporter and won a contract to take disabled youngsters to school.
Today the dad-of-two from Currie said he would rather go to court than pay the fines.
In response, the city council said Mr Renwick was one passenger seat short of being eligible – although it advised him to appeal the fines.
Mr Renwick told the Evening News: “When I got this vehicle two years ago I was told by Lothian and Borders Police I could use the lanes because I’m classed as a minibus – they said seven seats plus a driver is a minibus.
“So you can imagine how I felt when I got 27 tickets through the door.
“The police told me one thing and now I’m being told another thing by the council. There’s no way I’m paying this, I’d rather take it to court.”
Mr Renwick said he was a strong supporter of the enforcement of the bus lanes but said there was huge confusion around the system.
He is also among the drivers who did not receive a warning letter during the three-week trial.
Transport leaders have previously said they are targeting a “hard core” of drivers who flagrantly breach the rules.
Around 4000 fines had been expected annually but 5000 tickets were issued in the first week.
Mr Renwick’s case came as the owner of a Midlothian firm which operates minibuses said it would appeal all of its fines after being captured by the same camera.
Driver Mark Gamrot, who had also checked his vehicle’s bus lane eligibility with the police on more than one occasion, was fined while transporting an autistic child to a work placement in the city centre.
The 42-year-old, who runs Midlothian Private Hire with his wife, Diane, said: “I’ve been stopped by police before, because Midlothian plates look different, but once they’ve checked my minibus documents they’ve apologised and said I could carry on.
“I’ve never been fined in three years. The firm has got Mercedes saloons and I’d never let them go in the lanes but I know my Renault Trafic Passenger is eligible. Now we’re told it’s actually nine seats and not eight.
“I’ll appeal these on the grounds the police have said my vehicles are fine. We’ll see what the council has to say.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Any driver who feels that they have been given a ticket incorrectly is encouraged to get in touch with us, and details about how to appeal are included with each fine.
“Information about which vehicles are exempt from bus lane fines is available on the council website.”