More than £1m of fines handed out to motorists for driving through Gateshead bus lane in a year
Tens of thousands of fines have been handed out to car drivers caught out in a controversial Gateshead bus lane.
A staggering 38,145 drivers were caught in the in the Askew Road bus lane between December 1 2020 and December 1 2021 according to data released by Gateshead Council.
The figures, issued in response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, stated that these drivers shelled out a total of £1,009,975.00 in fixed penalty notices over the same time period.
Offending motorists are hit with a £60 fine, though the charge is reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Drivers have previously dubbed the bus lane a “premeditated cash cow” and told ChronicleLive they believe “confusing signage” and a “lack of advanced warning” are the reasons why the figures remain so high.
At the time Gateshead Council hit back stating there is “extensive” signage leading to the bus lane and insists it cannot explain why so many motorists continue to be caught.
Now, Marc Morley, service director for highways and waste at Gateshead Council, said that the bus lane is part of plans to tackle traffic in the centre of the borough.
He said: “The Askew Road bus lane is part of a wider strategy we are implementing to address the dominance of motor traffic in and around Gateshead town centre and the quays area.
“We need to shift the balance away from the private car and towards alternative forms of transport, or else car ownership and usage will keep rising.
“Bus operators have been very supportive of the bus lane being implemented and the resulting improvements to punctuality.
“Almost a third of North East households have no access to a car, and for many people, walking or cycling, or using the bus or Metro, are vital to get to work, education or health appointments.
“Askew Road is in the middle of our busiest area – the town centre and quays – and we have made the decision to direct traffic away from there to the outskirts of the town centre.
“All revenue generated from Penalty Charge Notices either pays for the costs of running the scheme, or is re-invested in improving transport infrastructure in Gateshead.
“We are as fair as possible in the operation of the bus lane. There are prominent signs and road markings in place to inform drivers they cannot use this stretch of road, and we have repeatedly adapted and improved that signage and the markings since the bus lane was first introduced.
“Gateshead is completely committed to tackling the climate emergency and resolving problems with air quality, and that is going to require radical action.
“We have made significant changes to our town centre road network to help address those issues, and we are continuing to refine our approach, including our newly announced plans to alter junctions on Regent Street, Charles Street and Park Lane, to help ease traffic flows.
“Any action we take has to sit within the wider context of the Council’s responsibilities to all road users and pedestrians.
“We need to shift the balance away from the private car and towards alternative forms of transport, and would urge all those using our road network – whether Gateshead residents, or those travelling from neighbouring areas, to please choose the most appropriate, and least polluting mode of transport for their journey.”