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.