More than £1.3 million in fines would have been dished out to drivers caught out by Aberdeen’s new bus gates in just the first 40 days — if not for a grace period.
Since the new bus gates were installed in August, many drivers have voiced concerns about how difficult it is to navigate the city centre.
Angry motorists have slammed the latest road change-up as a “cash cow” for Aberdeen City Council, calling it a “labyrinth” and “maze”, and raising concerns the new restrictions will “drive folk away”.
But will the bus gate system actually be a “cash cow” for the council’s coffers? And if so, how much money will it be generating in fines?
For more than two months of the new system, the council only sent out warning letters instead of £60 fines to rulebreakers, to allow people to get used to the new measures.
We wanted to find out how many fines would have been issued in the first month of the new bus priority route, if not for this grace period.
After a lengthy wait for the council to provide the data, we can reveal more than 22,000 warning letters were sent to drivers for going through the new bus gates by the end of September.
Read on to find out:
- Where the most people were caught
- Why the council has brought in the new bus gates
- What the council is doing to make the bus gates more visible
- And what the council could spend bus gate fine cash on
How many warning letters were sent out in the first month (during part of the grace period)?
The bus gates on Bridge Street, Market Street, Guild Street and Union Street were all installed as part of the new bus priority route, with the aim of making public transport more efficient around the city centre.
Cameras enforcing the new restrictions went live on August 22, meaning anyone driving wrongly through the bus gates at any time would be snapped and recorded automatically.
However, the council allowed a grace period for financial penalties until November 8, meaning warning letters were sent out to drivers caught breaking the new rules — instead of £60 fines.
From the bus gates going live on August 22 until the end of September (just 40 days in total), a whopping 22,257 rulebreakers were caught and sent a warning letter.
That is equivalent to around 571 drivers going through the new bus gates every day, or around 24 every hour.
And if you really want to get granular, that means there was on average one driver caught going through the bus gates every three minutes.
If it wasn’t for the grace period, that would have equated to £1,335,420 worth of fines.
Which bus gate caught out the most drivers?
There were a mammoth 12,735 warning notices sent out over 10 days in August after enforcement of the new bus gates first started on the 22nd.
This dropped to around 9,522 across the whole of September, perhaps after more people started to learn about the new rules.
The most warning notices were sent to drivers breaking the rules eastbound on Guild Street (from the train station towards the harbour) at a staggering 8,410.
That equates to around 215 drivers making the mistake every day, or £504,600 worth of fines if it wasn’t a grace period.
Market Street had the lowest number of rulebreakers, with 794 warning letters sent out during the same period.
This could be because drivers still avoid the street due to the last bus gate installed there, or because the bus gate is at the very top of the road near the junction with Union Street.
Drivers are then able to make a sharp turn left onto Hadden Street, diverting them around the Green and avoiding a warning letter, or as of November 8, a fine.
Are people still being caught out by the bus gates?
The money generated from all of the council’s many bus gates is ringfenced, and will only be spent on transport or infrastructure projects.
This means it could be spent on projects such as replacing bus shelters, or improving paths.
Previously, there was talk of £10,00 from fines being put towards free ebike hire for Aberdeen City Council staff.
The day after the grace period came to an end, we wanted to find out how many people were still being caught out by the new restrictions — and now securing themselves a £60 fine.
That’s £2,340 worth of fines in just 60 minutes.
On that day, most people were still being caught out on the eastbound lane, traveling from the Denburn towards the harbour area.
We counted 22 drivers (17 cars and five vans) driving through this particular bus gate in just one hour.
Have you been caught out by one of the new bus gates recently? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below
What is being done to make bus gates more visible?
Recently, the local authority decided to install more warning signs to make the bus gates “clearer” to drivers.
Work has already been completed on Union Street, including a new traffic island and improved warning signs.
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: “Due to a number of road changes taking place in the city we opted to apply a period of monitoring which included the issuing of warning notices and a public awareness campaign to highlight the changes being introduced in the city centre.
“The monitoring period provided valuable insight into the installed measures which has resulted in enhancements being taken forward to signage and road layouts in the area.”
Meanwhile, First Bus and Stagecoach have already praised the new restrictions as a “welcome addition” to their services.
In a report, First noted a 10% increase in passengers, claiming buses are more reliable due to the new road restrictions.
Now, the operator is considering ways to “reinvest the benefits” — which could mean cheaper fares for passengers.
Read more about Aberdeen’s bus priority route:
- Everything you need to know to avoid a £60 fine at Aberdeen’s new bus gates
- Aberdeen bus gates: How YOU can tell the council what you think and make a difference
- 84-year-old ‘shaken’ after being ‘trapped’ in Aberdeen’s bus gates
- David Knight: Ineffective bus gate signage in Aberdeen is setting drivers up to fail