Fines for the drivers using bus lanes in Northampton have been hiked — but councillors say it’s not their fault.
West Northamptonshire Council came under fire after introducing a 24-hour bus lane along Weedon Road last year.
Changes were made following a barrage of complaints from drivers caught by cameras positioned strategically at the end of the bus lane, where queues frequently formed behind traffic turning right into the Westbridge garage in the single all-vehicle lane on St James’ Road.
Penalties started at £60, reduced by half if paid within 14 days. But some debts mounted into hundreds for those who failed to pay up.
Councillors changed the regulations in February, but those caught in the lane between the new operating hours of 7.30am to 9.30am will now face a £70 ticket — although the time for payments to be discounted is increased to 21 days.
The increase affects all council areas which issue bus lane penalties, and also applies to the Drapery bus lane in Northampton town centre.
Councillor Phil Larratt, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “We welcome the extended discount period but as a local authority we are obliged to comply with the rules nationally.
“People are busy and this gives them a better chance of not missing out on the discount, especially now it’s the same regime as postal parking fines.
“But we have to remember bus lanes are there to reduce congestion and encourage people on to greener and more sustainable forms of transport. So, the best way to beat the traffic and avoid fines is to use the bus.”