Golly what a stupid article splashed across the front page of the NZ Herald today on bus lanes. Here’s a part of it:

Motorists have been stung $4.2 million in fines in one year for using bus lanes in Auckland City – even though they have no indication when they can enter lanes to turn left.

Traffic defence lawyer Steve Cullen says the lack of signage is disgraceful.

Under nationwide Transport Agency rules, motorists can drive on bus lanes to turn left if they are within 50m of an intersection.

But Auckland motorists are liable for a $150 fine if they switch too soon.

City council officers often place cameras at the 50m mark to record infringements, but there are no road signs to indicate when motorists can enter a bus lane to turn left.

Councils have been flooded with complaints from ticketed motorists claiming they were within the 50m space.

The rest isn’t much better. People moaning about getting stung with a $150 fine for driving in a bus lane – with the main issue being that the 50 metre marks (you’re allowed to drive in a bus lane for 50 metres when turning into or out of a side street or driveway) aren’t clearly marked. I agree that it’s probably not easy to tell the difference between 40m, 50m or 60m – but it is damn easy to tell the difference between 10 metres and 50 metres, so if you want to make sure you don’t get a ticket for driving in a bus lane: get out of it.

Between this article, debates over the Grafton Bridge bus lanes, Auckland City Council’s proposed sabotage of the Dominion Road bus lanes, North Shore City’s consideration of ruining the Onewa Road transit lane and NZTA’s proposal to allow cars on the Northern Busway it seems like outright war is being waged on bus priority throughout Auckland.

This is a particularly worrying trend, as if there’s one thing we could do in Auckland over the next five years to dramatically improve public transport in a quick and cheap way, it would be to rapidly expand the current bus lane system. As I explained in a recent post on the Onewa Road transit lane, giving priority to buses (and in some cases T3 vehicles) results in the far more efficient use of the roadspace, and often the “supposedly empty” bus lane carries far more people than the full, but barely moving, general lane. I explained in a previous post why bus lanes are so essential if we’re going to make public transport more attractive for people – as without bus priority catching the bus will never be faster than driving along the same route: and therefore it’s unlikely that many people will choose public transport (and therefore they will stay in their cars clogging the roads and polluting our cities).

Getting back to the Herald article, I think there’s a simple way to avoid getting pinged with a fine: just stay out of the bus lane. It’s there for a reason, by driving in it you’re messing up things for a huge number of public transport users.

So please, just stay out of the bus lanes – everyone will be happy then.

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38 comments

  1. This sounds like a follow up article to a story on Fair Go (6/7/10). They raised the issue of fines around the 50m area. They go out on the street and mesured how far away they believed 50m was. Most guessed well short of the mark. However the programme sadly had little sympathy for buses and strongly favoured the rights of automobiles.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/fair-go/buses-3632081

    I walked into the lounge to find my mother nodding her head in agreement. I soon put an end to that!

    1. The marks are already there but only AT people knows about it but not the general public, cos there are no signs.

  2. It does seem like it is a bit of a war on buses at the moment, as for bus lanes we just keep getting people who think they have a birth right to drive on any piece of tarmac they want.

  3. There is another article in the herald today about the buslanes, I find it interesting that they aren’t using their normal transport reporter for these stories. Of interest in this story was the comment from Ken Baguley “He said the council had pushed for Tamaki Drive bus lanes to be used by vehicles with two or more occupants but bus-only lanes must remain on heavy public transport routes.”

    So why are you trying to change Dominion Rd Ken?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10659385

  4. I thought Land Transport NZ disappeared into NZTA a couple of years ago?

    Regarding Dominion Road, I reckon the Council thought they’d be able to sneak it by without anyone really noticing, and hoped that the only people who would notice would be happy drivers. I think the fact that there has been huge opposition may be somewhat the result of PT advocates realising what was happening and making some noise about it.

  5. The people pleading ignorance to the changes in the road rules in that Fair Go story shouldn’t be in charge of a motor vehicle if they fail to understand the road code.

    1. I agree, if you can’t stay out of a bus lane don’t drive, here’s another story in the Herald

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10659386

      out of interest I used google maps just to see how far away 70 meters was (this is how far this man used the lane for, here is the streetview result
      http://maps.google.co.nz/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&ll=-36.851385,174.770975&spn=0.001723,0.004128&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=-36.851363,174.770976&panoid=q4YWAxCYdqihe4-zIp3H5g&cbp=12,222.98,,0,12.43&msid=108812902397627427887.00048b8a58558d5395fe6

        1. I love this comment the best, I wonder if he actually has any idea about the ‘overseas experience’ or if he’s just trying to justify his own myopic prejudices… and I do wonder where the bus lanes that take only one bus every 15 minutes are?

          The bus lanes around the world have been dismissed almost immediately and/or are treated as a stupid joke. And we introduced them – disregarding overseas painfull experience. It is like wiping off say 50% of the road capacity for a bus to use it every 15 minutes.”

        2. I don’t even bother reading “Your Views” or the comments on section on Stuff. Its so depressing to see what the majority of people contribute.

  6. I think the point made by Land Transport spokesman Ewart Barnsley sums this up: the aim is not for motorists to use the full 50m, they are not turning lanes.

  7. This is basically the same as that bullshit about Grafton Bridge. In that case, thousands of people apparently completely ignored several “no entry” and “no left turn” signs, and then complained when they were fined for it. If you’re too stupid to comprehend basic road signs, stay off the road! The same goes for “bus lane” signs!

  8. Whinging bunch of muppets.

    Like Nick R I like the NZTA guy – its pretty simple, they’re NOT turning lanes.

  9. Exactly, what do these people do if there aren’t any bus lanes, drive for over 50m down the footpath or along the grass verge before making a left turn? Do the feel the need to drive over 50m in the oncoming lane when making a right turn?!

  10. Just something I was thinking about, currently all fines go to the respective councils and would go to the general kitty which is often used for stupid pet projects. With Auckland Transport I believe this function would sit under them therefore all fines collected would go to back into the transport budget. If we were smart we would earmark the fines for PT use and the money could be used to help subsidise more services, improve the farebox recovery etc.

  11. *sigh* Love the people commenting about how as they pay road tax and rates the council should open up bus lanes for general traffic. I guess people like me who use buses are poor people who contribute nothing to society then.

  12. A few posts back there were comments about raised medians to protect bus lanes not being necessary … I think they are… maybe with another year of fines we can put them up 🙂

  13. It’s a classic example of how all the whingers get emboldened by the fact that Council is failing to protect their own bus lanes in public. If they just said: “They are here for a reason, deal with it”, then all this stuff would have much less intensity.

  14. Whingers get emboldened when the Minister makes clear that trucks and cars rule and only worthless poor folk use public transport. That’s “leadership” for you.

  15. Uhhh in todays North Shore Times someone sent in a letter about Onewa Road saying that the footpaths should be halved, street parking removed and bus lanes opened up (as they are “under utilised”). I really don’t see the logic in that because the increase in commuting time by an additional lane would just be offset by the increase in bus commuters switching to cars. Such a fundamental concept to understand. Plus Onewa Road must have one of the most popular bus lanes in Auckland.

  16. Another stupid story today, a counciller got stung and is now claiming his own council is revenue gathering.

    I was thinking about the things people are complaining about, they seem to fall into two categories, one that 50m isn’t long enough, and the second that it is 50m is two hard to judge. The first issue is an issue of perception but the second could be solved. Many people say a sign or painted marker should be placed 50 from the intersection, this is fine for roads but not for driveways which most people seem to forget about. Also we no longer paint enitre buslane green to indicate it and instead only paid certain patches of it, this means when driving along the road without green markings the other lane looks clear. Could the answer be to paint green lines across the lane every 10m, that way people could just count 5 lines out from their destination and then move over, if it was done the length of the lane it would also help to advertise the lane without needing to paint the whole thing.

      1. Sorry James, I don’t even remember seeing your comment so it wasn’t an intentional steal, more like great minds thinking alike. In saying this, thinking about it more, it might need to be one 25m as at a distance and especially when moving lines start blur a little.

        1. Don’t worry I forgive you. I think some sort of distance marking would be good a good idea. The last thing we need is more signs clogging up footpaths.

  17. That article in the Herald today absolutely pisses me off.

    Sounds like Moyes turned out of Waterloo Quadrant when there wasn’t space and thought “oh yeah, I can use the entire 300m of buslane between there and Grafton Rd” and then got caught. Wah wah!

    That to me IS stealing a march on other drivers. If there wasn’t a bus lane there you wouldn’t be able to do it. Before the bus lane was put in (when it was two general traffic lanes) you couldn’t do it because they still had the same problem.

    As for the two case studies the first one sounds like BS (oh noes, a bus is behind me, it doesn’t have brakes! I’ve got to go all the way down to Wellesley St (which is where I’m actually going anyway)), however the 2nd one I do have a little sympathy for.

  18. To me it seems to be people just wanting to get a free ride down a congested road, then when they get caught they make excuses about 50m being hard to judge blah blah blah.

    If you cant judge 50m, you probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place.

  19. Just been fined $150.00 for driving in the bus lane…i measured it out of curiosity. I measured 51 meters to the point of crossing the solid white line. I had to sit in slow to virtually stationary traffic for about 5-7 mins waiting to enter the rightful 50m zone. Every attempt made, still got a ticket. Put some marks on the kerb, road or somewhere at least the average driver will know. I agree, i was cutting it a bit fine…but i still dont know where they take their measurements from..! seems like a good money making racket to me…wish i could charge like that!!

  20. Have just seen a camera filming down from Newmarket Road turn off. I have no idea whether I was too far back when I got into the bus lane. I don’t know this road all , I was coming across from a side street on the opposite side of the road therefore it was not clear it was a bus lane until I got on it. All I knew was at the right speed and was making a safe indication into the left lane to turn.If you don’t get into the lane early enough you make it unsafe for others switching lanes. This is a ridulous rule for people unfamiliar with a road as the markings / signs are not clear. The whole Auckland bus lane organisation is a shambles! I have lived international and know the difference. Sympathise with writer above. It’s easy to be self righteous if you drive these streets regularly , it’s not clear for those from out of Auckland.

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