We’ve seen from AT’s board reports in recent months that they’re starting to use CCTV for a wide array of purposes. This includes analysis such as counting pedestrians, vehicles in bike lanes / blocking intersections / stopped on level crossings / red light running and to measure speeds. Last year they also started using CCTV to permanently enforce part of the Fanshawe St bus lane. Now they’re rolling it out to more bus lanes:

More bus lanes in central Auckland are being monitored 24 hours a day.

Auckland Transport has installed CCTV cameras in bus lanes on Queen Street, Hobson Street and Khyber Pass Road. There are already CCTV cameras monitoring enforcement on Fanshawe Street.

John Strawbridge, Group Manager Parking Services and Compliance says the cameras have leading edge, purpose built analytics. “They generate an alert so we don’t need to have an enforcement officer set up on the street with a mobile camera. The CCTV footage is then reviewed by an experienced staff member who makes the decision about whether an infringement should be issued.”

When CCTV was introduced on Fanshawe Street in July last year (2017) there was an initial jump in the number of infringements issued but now infringements are back to similar levels as before CCTV.

John Strawbridge says this is about freeing up bus lanes for buses. “A bus can move around 70 people, it’s much more efficient than clogging the roads with cars. The lane on Fanshawe Street currently carries more than 5,000 people during the morning peak hour, compared to approximately 1800 people in cars in the other two lanes.”

The key benefits of using CCTV to remotely monitor bus lanes are:

  • the lanes can be monitored 24 hours, 7 days,
  • one officer can monitor multiple lanes,
  • eliminates health and safety risks for staff who would normally need to stand on the road side for hours.

Bus lanes are for buses, motorcycles, scooters and cyclists. Other vehicles can enter the bus lane to turn left up to 50 metres before turning.

The infringement fee for driving illegally in a bus lane is $150, this fee is set by central government not Auckland Transport.

This is good and exactly what we wanted to see when the Fanshawe St changes were announced. Keeping bus (and bike) lanes clear is critical to ensuring they work as intended and so enforcement is essential.

From what I’ve seen on Queen St, cars are routinely ignoring the bus lanes when enforcement isn’t active and so this should hopefully make a positive difference.

Bus lane enforcement on Queen St in the past.

Hopefully we’ll see CCTV used on other bus lanes in the future too

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  1. Good to see AT publicly emphasizing the value of PT as a more spatially efficient mode of transport and linking that with why enforcement is needed to preserve that efficiency.

    Also I hope to see CCTV enforcement of car free lanes and streets (including Queen St once it is freed from cars).

  2. This is good news. But it doesn’t seem enough. Having to enforce bus lanes is another cost associated with the driving mode, so should be funded by drivers, presumably from the fuel tax. There should be sufficient enforcement to bring a change in attitude – I don’t think this provides enough geographical scope to even begin to change the culture.

    1. Given the use of Queen St by drivers currently I suspect it will be funded by drivers. But yes agree with your sentiment and have the same issue with road crossings of rail. The trains have right of way, if vehicle traffic is being held up by then the funding for bridges and underpasses should come from the road budget.

      1. What is going to happen on the Western Line Post-CRL when there are planned to be twice as many trains during peak as there are currently? Are there plans for grade separation pre-CRL, apart from the grade separation at Mt Eden station?

        1. Good question but sadly there is the real possibility no further grade separation will occur. But good news is Glen Eden is getting raised road junction tables to implement Vision Zero safety.

    2. The only sufficient level of enforcement is full coverage (that is every lane has at least some enforcement, not necessarily every metre of lane), it’s just a simple question of costs every minute of delay costs AT and their passengers and the fines wouldn’t even approach recovery cost if a vehicle needed to be towed.

      That we don’t have consistent enforcement and 24/7 buslanes in the majority of the city speaks to AT’s poor understanding of what a buslane is for. AT seems to view a buslane as an option of last resort to fix a congestion problem when they should be the first step in delivering frequency.

      If we’re serious about quality buses we need to ensure that:

      – Buslanes are provided for all frequent bus routes
      – All lanes are 24/7
      – All lanes have at least some enforcement
      – All lanes are fully painted for maximum visibility

      1. Enforcement is never free. As a result, the cost of enforcement needs to be weighed against the potential benefit.

        The end result is that enforcement is applied where required to change behavior.

        Not sure if every single metre of bus lane needs to be 24/7. There are bus lanes on some roads that are normally rather quiet, yet heavily congested during peak hours, near The Harp of Erin on Main Highway in Ellerslie comes to mind. It is roads like that where it makes no sense to have the bus lane being 24/7.

        1. If “enforcement is applied where required to change behaviour” then it’s required throughout the city. This applies to speeds, to red light running, to illegal use of bus lanes, to parking on verges, footpaths and vehicle crossings, to not stopping for pedestrians at crossings or if they are already on the road.

          The cost of the enforcement is part of the cost of the driving mode and should be funded from drivers. We’re not at the stage where there may be tiny benefits from enforcement; we’re at the stage where a transformational shift in attitude is required. Picking a few prime spots around the city results in being just an exercise in excluding others. Let’s do it properly.

    3. Surely it is funded by drivers? At $150 each ticket, even if AT only ticket 10 people per workday day, that is $390,000 per year. Should easily cover the cost of a few cameras and an enforcement officer. I imagine the real number of tickets could be 100 times that if they had camera’s everywhere.
      Same goes for speed cameras and red light cameras. They would have to be self funding. I just can’t see why we don’t have more of them?

      1. An effective set of cameras and fines would eventually not be pulling in much revenue because infringements would go right down. I wonder how much of the cost of the staff processing the footage goes down as the infringements go down.

        1. When Glen Eden gets the 30kph speed limit then a couple of speed cameras would be very lucrative. May even raise enough to grade separate the Glenview Rd level crossing or put the rail station in a trench.

        2. I think that reducing revenue would be a good thing, as it shows the system is working.
          As for covering costs, I don’t think that’d be an issue. If we assume that you don’t use a dedicated team for covering the cameras, you’re not adding additional labour costs (well, worst case 1-3 more staff @ $60k each). Opex cost would probably be only 10-20k per camera (power, maintenance of the camera, NW, servers, etc)…

  3. A law that is not policed is not a law at all – merely a suggestion. Little wonder drivers ignore a “suggestion” not to use bus lanes.

  4. Yeah, let me guess – Victoria St, where the bus lanes might make sense to buses, but no one else. In the chicane from Nelson St, if you plan to not turn up Albert St, a car needs to drive first in the far right lane at Nelson St, shift to the far left lane before Hobson St, then take the far right lane until Federal St, shifting into the left lane before Albert in order to go straight ahead. I’ve tried it and you simply get hit by, or hit, cars that sensibly ignore bus lanes that don’t contain buses.

    Once again Auckland’s transport policy is being run by students who bike to uni through all the red lights but get their parents to drive them whenever they’re carrying more than a Fjallraven. This is nuts.
    [Awaiting troll accusations and general bile].

    1. It’s bus priority. That means actually prioritising the street for buses, at the expense of single occupant car drivers. Yes it will be awkward and less than idea to drive a car along that street, thats because you’ve been deprioritised.

      1. Who says that cars only contain one person? Mine often contains five. It’s a bloody full bus that does better than that, per square metre of road. But you can’t argue with dogma.

        There’s an indecent amount of glee at AT about things they’ve decreed that simply obstruct the movement of cars. Every little irritation helps the cause. Of course they all park downstairs for free at Viaduct Harbour…

        1. Fanshaw street. One bus lane more then 5000 people per hour compared to approximately 1800 people per hour in the other TWO lanes. A case to redistribute the carriageway allocation surely.

        2. The figures I’ve seen of measured occupancy have been average of 1.14 in Auckland. Any more detail than that, anyone?

        3. Why per square metre? Per Lane metre is surely more relevant.

          And you have (very selectively) used a full car load. Fine. Compare with a full bus: in the case of a double decker, up to ~100. Car length ~4.3 – 4.5 m, double decker bus length ~13m …

          I’ll let you do the maths …

        4. There are regular surveys of car occupancy. The current average from the 2018 survey is 1.14 people per vehicle in the city centre.

          That’s close enough to 1 for casual conversation.

          Sure it feels like they decree to obstruct the movement of cars, but the truth is in these cases they aren’t trying to obstruct cars, they’re actually not concerned about the cars very much at all.

          They are however concerned with prioritising buses, which means not prioritising cars. And when you stop putting cars first and start putting buses first, I’m sure it feels like you are being picked on behind the wheel.

          But there is a difference between picked on, and no longer being the favorite.

          All I can say is get used to it, cars will never again be the priority in the middle of town.

        5. Oh and a bus, even a double decker, takes up the same roadspace as two cars in a row.

          Those cars will have on average 2.28 people on board, so as long as a bus has three passengers the space is better allocated to the bus.

        6. I rest my case. Ban cars.

          I’ll leave the car at home when I can bring my bichon on the bus, without finger wagging from jumped up local officials.

        7. I don’t think anyone really cares what you or your dog do, or where you leave your car. You can do whatever you like, just don’t drive in a bus lane.

        8. historically vehicles average 1.2 people or something, cant really go by one individual that loads up a people mover.

    2. So many lanes to have to choose between. Can’t we get rid of some of them?

      I didn’t quite follow about the uni students on bikes thingy. Is it that you’re worried about having to do this right to left weaving on a bike? We certainly need bike lanes there, although some intrepid cyclists find the bus lanes are ok.

      Thanks for bringing it to our attention…

      Just wondering, what is it that you’re having to avoid as you shift from the right hand lane to the left… is it a whole lot of space-hogging cars turning right?

      1. Well yes, it’s space-hogging cars, taxis and unruly Uber Eats scooters dicing with death. Or people simply trying to drive straight ahead by a fairly direct route. Old school that, I know.

  5. 1) Why CCTV that then has to be reviewed by staff? Its not high productivity. The camera technology exists to capture number plates (ANPR).

    2) $150 fine – where did the government come up with that number?. If ANPR is used (high productivity) & AT is delegated the right to set the fine, the level of the fine can be set at the lowest necessary to keep the bus lanes 99% clear & reviewed every 6 months. Anything above the minimum necessary fine is simply revenue gathering.

    1. The presence of a car in a bus lane is not automatically illegal, they may be entering or exiting a driveway for example. For the fine to stand up it will need someone to have viewed the footage and confirmed it was an offence. The same applies to red light cameras.

      Regarding the fine, the enforcement system should ideally be cost neutral as well.

    2. From the cameras I have seen around, they do have ANPR and are using that to issue fines, because there would be no other way in issue tickets to the owner of the vehicle.

      I can understand the need for someone to approve the fine, because in some cases people need to enter/exit a bus lane in order to access a car park. And it is still fairly productive because you don’t have someone standing there for hours, they are only needed to check the if the recorded actions were actually an infringement or not.

      From what Ive heard, the computer system only records the infringement, so the reviewer doesn’t need to go through hours of footage.

      And what is so wrong with revenue gathering? It is an entirely voluntary tax. No one is forcing people to use bus lanes. I do think there should be a first time warning for everyone.

  6. I’d like to see cameras in the front of buses for the purpose of issuing fines to all the cars parked in bus lanes, e.g. Gt Nth Rd Pt Chev, Chinamans Hill and sometimes Arch Hill.

    1. It’s a pretty standard, perfectly logical response – don’t pay for someone to stand forlornly next to the road for hours, with a camera and a hi-vis, just do the logical thing and have a camera on the front of every bus – records the time and the crime and GPS the place. Job done. Tickets issued direct from the bus when they park up each night.

  7. Everything is starting to happen at AT this year. First there was the monitoring of the red light cameras that were barely installed (3-4 years) and now the bus lanes. My guess is that they are either part of someones KPI for a bonus, or someones on a PIP.

  8. Good to see this camera enforcement stuff amping up. Be interesting to see when there is a queue of traffic down Queen Street & people want to get in too early to the turning lane.

    1. Yes, that will be very interesting.

      You have to go into the bus lane early enough, otherwise people from behind you will fill up the lane and block you.

      But if you go early enough you risk a fine.

      You can’t win this one.

  9. CCTV is potentially all good and well but…..

    If we are reliant on the nameless faceless, answer to no one AT, who in all probability will use corporate ideals like KRA’s, KPI’s etc, to measure staff performance and then when an over zealous manager cracks the whip on one of their underpaid undertrained ambitious minions and they issue a fine and get it wrong, (and the fine for daring to go near a bus lane is excessive), there will be problems.

    Some robust checks and balances as to the use of the cameras, need to in place first because personally, I do not have faith in AT organising a piss up in a brewery, let alone their core task!

    1. I have to agree. AT needs to have guides showing the 50m mark, even if only “in camera”.

      With regard to receiving an infringement fee, it’s a civil matter so you can always write to AT putting forward your case. At the end of the day you could always challenge the infringement in small claims court. AT are still the winners because they’ve cost you time and a little money though…

      AT need to be completely transparent in how they manage this. That also means letting the public know if there are any KPIs or “performance expectations” in place – Which there shouldn’t be in a fair system.

      1. AT need to provide a safe, effective and efficient transport network. That is their mandate. Currently, we don’t have a safe, effective nor efficient transport network.

        The cameras will help with this. They will help with safety – currently the bus and cycle lanes are made unsafe for cyclists by the infringing drivers. They will help with efficiency of the bus network, allowing more mode shift. Therefore they will help with making an efficient transport network. All good.

        KPIs and performance expectations will also help with this. They will help AT to back up their bold wordy statements with action.

        It would be nice if AT could be completely transparent, yes. But why is this a concern for you right now, on the issue of cameras? We could and should campaign for transparency in a general sense – like in why the parking strategy isn’t being followed, why the UN guidelines for 20% budget given to active modes isn’t even attempted, why AT have declined to respond to Goff’s expectation to boldly reallocated road space to PT and active modes, and why the Sustainability Framework is largely being ignored. Etc.

        It seems to me that some sort of concern for drivers’ rights to transparency have somehow reared up out of habit, when the rights of vulnerable road users to safety, and of the general population to physical activity in their transport lifestyles, haven’t been addressed.

        Those rights are higher than any drivers’ rights to transparency, and far more urgent, so I’m not sure what your concern is.

        1. The problem with KPIs is that poorly chosen ones have unexpected outcomes, such as gaming the system or penalising innocents (<25m in bus lane).

          This is why guides, even if invisible to drivers, are necessary – It means that there is no wiggle room, or room for a person to make up "poor performance" for the month.

          Personally I don't care about the use of cameras. If I'm in the wrong, I'm in the wrong. If I feel that I was within the 50m limit I'll make it onerous to collect the infringment, should they not entertain my argument.

          This is another reason that AT needs to be transparent – They'll be slammed in the media as partaking of unfair revenue gathering unless they can satisfy the public that their employees are treating everybody equally and with no room for interpretation.

          Further, about the cameras – They're a necessary tool, but one that has a great capex associated with them. Police should also be targeting areas where lawbreaking is happening. I only make this argument because we don't have an unlimited budget for this infrastructure and cameras need to compete with other projects, such as lane separation or traffic calming, etc. So yeah, we need cameras but not in every bus lane 🙂

        2. I don’t disagree, but taking the conversation further, in all the areas and ways that AT needs to be enforcing the law, automated enforcement is the best way to go. The Portland Vision Zero movement made a commitment to not introducing enforcement that could involve racial profiling, so it was automated enforcement that they implemented.

          The ‘great capex’ involved with enforcement is a cost involved with using private vehicles. The costs of it must not be generalised to the public but imposed on the mode that incurs the cost. If that results in mode shift, good.

        3. @ Heidi – Well said. The only problem, per se, is that you need to capitalise the project before the benefits can be realised. That means who-knows how much money being sunk into not just the cameras, but also the power and networks, plus any infra upgrades required to make it work.

          Monitoring a dozen cameras is easy. Collecting data from several hundred requires a lot of bandwidth and a rather complex network. We’re talking the difference between Suzuki Swift pricing and Pagani Zonda pricing in both terms of capex and opex.

          To be clear – I’d be happy to see cameras in all bus lanes, but I’d want the council to fund *expansion* from revenue gained by the infra itself, or via a central govt grant… Which shouldn’t be _that_ hard.

    2. That should be easy enough to implement. Just a distinctive mark on the road about exactly 50m from the intersection and about 1m from the outside lane marking ie about 2m from the kerb. An enhancement later could be to include a sensor and transponder in the marker

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