For almost three months, drivers — including visitors to Aberdeen — have been left disorientated and bewildered by the new bus gates.
Many have taken to studying Google Maps, trying to work out diversions to once simple car trips into the city centre.
Up until now, anyone caught mistakenly entering one of the three new bus gate systems was sent a warning letter.
But on Wednesday, the “grace period” for the bus priority route officially came to an end.
This means anyone caught breaking the new road rules will now be slapped with a £60 fine — reduced to £30 if paid promptly.
It feels like the new bus gates have truly been a bone of contention across the city, so now that fines are being dished out, we wondered just how many people were still being caught out.
So, I headed down to Guild Street to see how many drivers I could spot over just one hour going through the gates.
As I perched myself by a window in the Craftsman coffee shop I couldn’t help but think by now, surely most people would know to avoid the area.
But boy, was I wrong.
How many rulebreakers were spotted on the Guild Street bus gate?
I started the count at 2.15pm on Thursday.
I hadn’t even ordered my latte by the time four cars had gone through the bus gate — it had only been six minutes.
From my vantage spot by the window, I could see the traffic lights at the junction with Market Street and Trinity Quay.
It was just a normal weekday afternoon, but the streets around Union Square were busy with people wrapped up in colourful, and cosy-looking, hats and scarves.
There was a constant flow of traffic on Market Street heading north, which was then directed right onto Trinity Quay.
It made me nervous to watch as people noticed the bus gate coming up on their left and scrambled to get into the lane they needed to be in.
By the end of the hour, 39 drivers (28 cars and 11 vans) had gone through the bus gate system. If I had held on another full minute that total would have been 41.
That’s £2,340 worth of £60 fines in just 60 minutes.
And, even if everyone manages to pay it quickly at the reduced rate of £30 that’s still £1,170 just in one hour.
Which direction were most rulebreakers heading in?
Because the bus gate is in force in both directions, I decided to keep a count for each lane — and I have to admit I was surprised by the results.
Most of the people breaking the new road rules were coming along Guild Street eastwards towards Market Street.
So on the lane closest to my vantage point in the coffee shop, I counted 22 drivers (17 cars and five vans) going through the traffic lights, and the bus gate.
Many of those people were stopped at the traffic lights right in front of the window, and I could see the distress on their faces as they tried to work out where they’d gone wrong and what next.
Meanwhile, others whooshed past the green traffic lights, perhaps hoping the camera wouldn’t manage to snap their reg plate. I’m pretty sure the camera still caught every single one.
Some of those unlucky people turned left to go up Market Street towards Union Street, entering yet another bus gate and bagging themselves a second potential fine.
What about the other way?
I counted 17 drivers (11 cars and six vans) going onto Guild Street in the direction of the train station within the hour.
At one point, I thought to myself that the only vehicles doing this were turning left on Market Street. One driver caught themselves just in the nick of time and managed to swerve round to head along Trinity Quay instead, saving themselves a fine.
Later, a car drove straight on from Trinity Quay and I could see the confusion spread across the woman’s face as she slowed down to look at the signs. But, alas, she slowly trundled on ahead and entered the bus gate.
What are the warning signs for Guild Street?
I couldn’t help but wonder why so many people were getting caught out heading west from the Denburn.
Perhaps they just didn’t notice the bus gate in time and got stuck in the wrong lane with no way to exit, or maybe they had been accessing the Merchant Quarter and made a wrong turn somewhere.
Taxis and authorised vehicles are allowed to enter bus gates. From where I was sitting it was often hard to work out which cars were private hire vehicles because often the only sign is the different style of number plate.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a driver saw an authorised vehicle or private hire car driving along a certain lane, and followed them, thinking it was safe enough to drive along.
Coming out from the Denburn can be confusing enough if you don’t know the city well, because you need to quickly figure out which lane you need to be in. Now, if you choose the wrong one you could end up at either the bus gate on Guild Street or Bridge Street.
The only way divers can avoid a bus gate here is to follow on to South College Street.
Meanwhile, the steady stream of traffic on both Market Street and Trinity Quay makes it easier to tell where you should go, and, most importantly, where you shouldn’t go.
Making the bus gates ‘clearer’
So far, a traffic island has been put up on Union Street alongside additional signs and some roads will be marked with yellow paint.
Perhaps there’s more work planned for the Guild Street area, and more specifically, the Denburn to highlight the upcoming restrictions.