Bus Lane Camera – £1m fines this year?


Good article in the Evening Standard about the bus lane camera of doom. I’ve had loads of emails about this from various unhappy people. It seems like a hell of a tax. I can’t actually find the camera in question on Streetview, but might take a wander later to pinpoint it. If anyone spots it, please add a comment below.

I seem to remember someone telling me that in South Africa people often shoot at speed cameras. (I’m not suggesting that as a course of action!)

Bus lane camera that is set to take £1m in fines from drivers this year

In just over three months since going live, the Blackheath camera generated Lewisham 3,742 tickets — more than £220,000 in fines….

It means it is on course to earn at least £900,000 if the tickets are paid promptly, securing a 50 per cent discount, but more likely to be well over £1 million….

…A leading criminal barrister is contesting a £60 ticket he was issued. Rupert Bowers, who has defended multi-million-pound fraud cases brought by HM Revenue and Customs, is now turning his attention to Lewisham.

UDPATE:
In the comments, Kate points out:

The camera is on the wall of Felicity Thingy estate agents, above the late lamented chocolate shop, very high but pointing straight up the road. It’s not painted yellow or anything useful.

Added a Google Streetview image above.

53 Comments

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53 responses to “Bus Lane Camera – £1m fines this year?

  1. Sonja

    We got caught out before xmas with the new Blackheath camera but when I looked at the TFL website, it stated that the times printed on the bus lane sign are the times you CAN drive in the bus lane – go figure. Anyway we ‘seem’ to have been let off. Link to site below ..though the wording has changed on the site since I sent my letter off, it still suggests that you CAN drive in the bus lane during the times on the sign!!

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/finesandregulations/963.aspx

  2. Ed

    Most revenue in London! What a claim to fame for Blackheath Village. I’ve looked while driving and could not see the camera?

  3. Gavin

    There’s a solution for drivers: don’t use the bus lane. The reason the fines are so high for this bus lane is probably that so many abuse it – it seems to be totally acceptable for this stretch of lane to be invaded. As a bus passenger and cyclist, it’s very frustrating and I’m glad it’s being enforced – though I wish this enforcement would have a clearer effect on drivers’ behaviour.

  4. I agree with Gavin. It’s a bus lane. Why are so many drivers so ready to think there is an optional element to laws that are designed to protect the safety of the majority? Many think they can selectively opt out of laws about speeding, red lights and bus lanes. Can we all choose what laws we don’t want to follow and get excused?

  5. My girlfriend was caught with this camera, and no, I’ve never spotted it. She paid the fine straight away, but I’m starting to wish she had contested it!

    I’m not surprised that so many people use the bus lane here though:
    1. Nobody EVER lets you feed into the left-hand lane after the bus lane ends
    2. There are always so many cars parked on the right hand side that you normally have to encroach onto the bus lane any way!

  6. Sonja

    The day we were caught there were 2 huge trucks unloading on the right hand side outside the shops on the right so we had no choice but to enter the bus lane… the point in the article is that there is very often no choice but to enter the bus lane on this stretch of road….hence the reason so many people have been fined.

    • Alf Egee

      Given the relative widths of the lanes & the fact it’s a one way system the right hand lane should be, in accordance with approved design principles, a designated red route. If waiting is permitted one has reasonable grounds to explain why use of the bus lane is appropriate. Note also someone might like to take a closer look at the signing of the end of the route & the distance from the traffic island. I personally doubt whether these comply with published ‘best practice’

  7. Sally Chambers

    Said girlfriend here :-)

    I paid the fine as yes I did “break the rules”, but I’d be really interested to know if the camera automatically spots these “crimes” or whether it’s man-powered. At the time I was caught there was no traffic on the road and drifted over to the left-hand lane as I needed to + I wasn’t getting in anyone’s way. It’s a shame a little common sense can’t be applied, but I suppose that’s the world we live in now.

    I do wonder whether a bus lane is required for such a small stretch of road anyway.. Hmmm ;)

  8. The camera is on the wall of Felicity Thingy estate agents, above the late lamented chocolate shop, very high but pointing straight up the road. It’s not painted yellow or anything useful. It looks as if it ought to cover both lanes, so a Real Human Bean ought to be able to weed out those who are forced into the lane because of parked lorries etc, and those who really are causing an obstruction.

  9. R.I.Pienaar

    The “it’s a bus lane just stay out of it” crowd has evidently never actually tried to make it through the village without entering this lane. It’s usually almost impossible due to trucks, cars parked on the yellow lines etc.

  10. Gavin

    I sympathise in those cases where the right hand lane is blocked, IF that’s when you picked up your fines – and a partial solution may be, as suggested above, to have better regulation of unloading, particularly at rush hour. But as a regular bike and bus commuter through the village, I have seen countless instances of people using the bus lane when there is no obstruction whatsoever – and unfortunately, when one person does it, people behind tend to do so too.

  11. Chris

    There is also a camera shaped like a sphere high up on a lamp post to the right of the pedestrian crossing as you come into the village down the hill from the Clarendon. The snappers sit in a white transit van usually the first of the metered parking bays opposite Zero Degrees but more recently up behind the church. This is the white transit with the engine running but no-one in the front two seats. They have a lap top and have to manually focus on the vehicles driving down the bus lane to be sure of a clean shot of the number plate.

    They used to sit in the back seat of a car and zoom in from the lap top if full view. It was a source of merriment for a few days to stand by the car looking in the back window and perhaps put them off by commenting on each “Zoom and Snap” Hence now the white transit.

    • Nice spot by Chris there.

      Do you think it would be worth hammering on the back of the van until the guys open the doors up? You can then helpfully inform them that they’ve left their engine running.

      I think the first bit of the bus lane, leading from the mini-roundabout to the Vale itself is fair enough, but the one thereafter is ludicrous for reasons explained above. The cameras should focus on the people/delivery folk etc who park illegally on the right thus forcing people into the bus lane!

      And what does the bus lane really achieve? It shunts a bus 50 yards further down the hill in order to join a vast amount of traffic trying a) cut in from the right to fork left and b) get past the station with its busy pelican crossing.

      I’m a car owner, but I use buses a lot and am all for bus lanes. But this one seems to me to be more aimed at revenue raising rather than traffic management.

  12. Lisa

    Best thing to do , is not have a car like me, then you’ll never have to worry about it. :)

    • Michele O'Brien

      Lisa wrote: “Best thing to do , is not have a car like me, then you’ll never have to worry about it.” And I say Hear Hear to that, Lisa. But I’d go further.

      If only all through traffic could be banned entirely from Blackheath, what a
      vastly nicer place to live in it would be.

      Anyone who can remember back that far will tell you that one of the nicest times in Blackheath was back in the 70s when the centre of the Village was closed off to ALL through traffic (including trucks and buses) for several months. The reason was the closure of the road bridge over the train tracks outside the station for much needed strengthening.

      What a wonderful time that was! For a few magic months Blackheath belonged to its residents instead of the two-way maelstrom of nasty noisy smelly dangerous traffic that day and night thunders down one side or other into the heart of the Village and then grinds its way up the hill the other side.

      During the bridge closure we residents could walk around the centre of our village wherever we liked in the fresh air without risk of being mown down or being hooted and screamed at by irate motorists and without having to breath their filthy fumes. Happy, happy days!

      Why can’t we have them back? A total ban on cars in London has to come some day – you can’t go on cramming more and more vehicles on to the capital’s overcrowded roads for ever.

      The tyranny of the private car has got to stop spoiling our lives some day. So why not sooner than later, and starting with Blackheath? Our lovely village could be so much more delightful without the through traffic.

      • AJ

        Sad to see people being myopic with their views..

        People can’t be blamed for having cars. Also you can’t compare the 70s with the current times as there has been a massive evolution in the area, mindset of people, businesses and all sorts. Fancy having to go through the traffic while you are in the process of dropping kids at school while heading to work. Owing a car is not a luxury and shouldn’t be deemed as such.

        Yes people have made the mistake of using the bus lane and being served a PCN brings in a lot of frustration. I push for warnings to be issued to 1st time offenders and PCNs going to subsequent offences, which can be appealed. My view and i stick by it

  13. John

    Nick Ferrari (who lives locally) was talking about this speed camera on his radio program on lbc this morning. Guy from KFH phoned in and talked about the white van catching people.

  14. Gavin

    I’ll make a plucked-from-the-air guess that about 30-50% of people motoring through the village – perhaps more – could rearrange their lives to take public transport but are simply now in the habit of driving or activley don’t want to leave their private box and sound system behind to take public transport. Understandable, in some ways – habit is hard to break, and the closed-off worlds we can make for ourselves are seductive – but it does make much of this snarl-up unnecessary.

  15. Pete

    I think if a vehicle is parked on the right hand side of the road during the bus lane operating times then drivers sould just simply wait behind the vehicle until it moves.

    This would cause a huge amount of congestion and drivers couldn’t be touched for it as driving round the vehicle would constitute an offence as it would mean encroaching on the bus lane. Is that what the council wants?

  16. dan

    I think we need a volunteer with some spare time to do the above. The traffic jam would get the council thinking.

  17. ChrisW

    I suppose the bike riders gloating at the penalties being issued
    to those using the bus lane never jump traffic lights, ride up
    1 way streets illegally, weave through traffic or fail to stop at zebra crossings ??????.

    • (Anonymous comment below this one not published due to excessive snark.)

    • Paul L

      I fully agree, Cyclists are the biggest menace on the roads in London. It seems every cyclist I see doesn’t seem to think the laws of the road apply to them. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve almost been hit by cyclists going through red lights. Literally every cyclist I see goes through red lights, it’s shocking!! But going back to the bus lane camera, it’s purely for revenue purposes, unjustifiable, and anyone who drives through the village knows that it’s almost impossible not to go in it when cars are parked on the right hand side. I have a lot of sympathy for those who have got fines through no fault of their own. They are scumbags, we are taken for mugs in this country, they will bleed us for every penny they can get

  18. Bob Land

    Just had look on StreetView, the Bus Lane is clearly marked on the road, but I doubt if you would notice it , if you are in your car, with tig cars in front and behind, the blue traffic sign, shows a bus, a cycle and the word taxi,
    Mon – Fri
    7 – 10 am

    4 – 7 pm

    are these the times it is prohibited to drive in the Bus Lane ?

    The yellow and white traffic signs, concerning parking and loading times, outside Furley & Baker, are a complete disaster , they are facing each other across the road, so they are completely out of sight to an approaching motorist, only a pedestrian crossing the road at that point can read the text, and even if they were facing the oncoming traffic ,the letters are too small and too numerous for any driver to read, whilst the vehicle is in motion.

    Mind you , I do see that the films made by the street view team are dated 2009, so it might not be the case today.

    • Anonymous

      The times on the sign denote when the bus lane is in force. Outwith these times anyone can use it. Noticed in other parts of London with timed bus lanes no one seems to use them when they are allowed to!

  19. Bob Land

    The road signs all tie in with each other , with regard to the prohibited times.
    although , as I said, drivers are unable to see, the parking and loading signs.
    I think that the crux of the matter is, does the camera cover the whole width of Montelier Vale or just the bus lane ?
    Because if it is only the bus lane, nobody can prove anything as to why he or she were in the bus lane, during the prohibited periods.

    • Chris

      Having stood and watched as the snappers use the lap top in the back of their car (now White Transit) to focus the camera, presumably using a wireless connection to the camera, for a clear shot of the offending number plate, the camera initially has a clear view of both lanes. The final pic of the car/van and number plate however is quite close and will not show if there is or isn’t a blockage in the right hand lane…I’m not sure if a wide shot snap of the blocked lane comes as well as your car/van pictured from behind when they send the ticket though I am sure you can ask for the wider picture….which they might perhaps keep a copy of…. or would they ?

      Perhaps someone who has had a ticket can advise what pics they provide as proof.

  20. ElizaF

    From: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/Environment/

    “Welcome to Lewisham Council’s environment homepage. We have committed to making Lewisham a cleaner, safer and more attractive place to live and work….”

    Except for those living in Blackheath. For those overpaid bozos, we are happy to employ traffic camera contractors who leave their engine running all day but don’t go anywhere.

  21. Crosspatch

    Chris – I got caught by the snappers recently. Interestingly, the pictures the council sent simply showed my car in the bus lane when it shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t until I checked out my PCN (that’s Parking Charge Notice for anyone who hasn’t had one) online that I found a couple of extra pictures, one of which clearly showed a parked vehicle (no lights, no driver) in the right hand lane. This explained why I was in the wrong lane, so I’m appealing. At least the time spent dealing with my appeal will mean less money for Lewisham in the end.

    PS: On the other hand, if Lewisham promise to give all the money from fines towards saving the library, I’ll pay up, no fuss.

  22. Andy

    I got a ticket which states the offence took place at 4.03 pm which I am contesting. The restriction begins at 4pm. My car clock was reading earlier.

    I asked to see calibration certificates for their timing equipment. Their response was that the operator uses The Rugby Clock (which was actually decommissioned in 2007!) They also said that someone phones the speaking clock each time they book someone, which I really can’t believe to be true.

  23. sara campbell

    i have been snapped in the bus lane at blackheath and quite clearly there is a large truck unloading on the rhs.i have contested the fine but they have said that after i had encroached in the bus lanr to pass the truck ,i should have swapped back to the rhs for approx ten seconds and then moved to the lhs.this seems a bit harsh and ridiculous really as i was the only car on the road.

    • It’s time to knit a woolly hat for that camera…

      • Dr Nick

        I agree completely with the anti-camera sentiments. This is an absurd bus lane, which – I am convinced – worsens traffic flow in the peak times it is in operation, because it causes tailbacks up Montpelier Row, Royal Parade, and back round into Tranquil Vale, which causes tailbacks into Montpelier Row… (ad infinitum). And there’s almost no parking control on the other side of the road, as several have noted!

        We should start a campaign to have the cameras removed, along with the Secret Squirrels in the white Transit. The Council has just lowered the bump over the crossing outside the station, (which IMO is bonkers, as it’s reducing safety), so they’re obviously spending traffic budget. There’s no reason for the bus lane cameras to be there.

        (I think there would be nothing illegal or immoral in groups of us obstructing the view of the Secret Squirrels, by the way. We could just stand on the pavement blocking their view. The police could always ask us to move if we were causing an obstruction.)

        We got a bus lane removed by protest in Greenwich South Street in 1999, and there’s no reason a campaign can’t get this bus lane removed either. (Yes, I mean get the LANE removed, not just the CAMERAS).

        I’d suggest the Blackheath Village Residents’ Group (which I am involved with, for transparency) as a potential campaign vehicle. Other Blackheath residents need to contact BVRG to propose this (or oppose it!) though, before they’d back a campaign.

        Mr Bugle has helpfully provided the BVRG’s website link on his front page “links” list.

  24. FormerResident

    I’m a former Blackheath resident who moved away decades ago. My wife and I came back for the funeral of an old friend.

    I was completely taken aback when I received the PCN. I used to know the area like the back of my hand, and did not see any bus lane warning signs as we entered the Village from the Hare and Billet side.

    Looking at Gavin’s comments, I think he should remember that the roads are fundamentally there for all of us, and not make unfair assumptions about why people drive through Montpelier Vale. We had parked at Eltham Station, and taken the train to attend a memorial service in Central London; then gone back to our car to drive to the cremation at Footscray Cemetary, then to a wake in Greenwich, and then went to look at my late parents’ old house by the Heath before driving home to the South Coast. We could not have managed such a complex journey on public transport alone. Not without spending a small fortune on taxis, at least. My day was expensive and sad enough as it was, without the added £65 surcharge for being an unsuspecting out-of-towner.

    Penalty charges on this particular section of road catch the unwary by unfair means. I believe this to be unreasonable, unlawful, and an abuse of power by Lewisham Council.

    • Sorry to hear that – what a nasty experience. Hope your next return to this part of the world is for happier reasons (and without any fines!)

      • Anonymous

        I stood by the Tranquil Vale crossing waiting for someone at around 5 pm the other day and the bus lane was clogged with cars for around 20 mins. Either council income will soar enough to pay for a new library or it’s pot luck whether you get clobbered.

      • Does it operate on weekends?

  25. Bob Land

    I may be wrong, but I think that somebody in authority in Blackheath should go and have a word with the agency who are responsible for the traffic signposting , I have had a look at it on Google Street View, it seems to me to be totally inadequate.

    For example , a vehicle coming from the Hare & Billet area, drives on to the Royal Parade, turns right at Montpelier Vale, there are NO signs or ANY indication that there is a BUS LANE ahead, until drivers turn right at the junction, opposite Wemyss Road. There are at this junction white lines painted on the road, indicating a Bus Lane, which if the vehicle is in a convoy of vehicles, the drivers will be unable to see these white lines.

    There is a totally inadequate small roadsign, FACING INWARD , with the details of the Bus Lane, outside the Furley and Baker Shop, which will not be seen by most drivers , because they will be concentrating on steering / driving their vehicles, and if there are any large Lorries mingled in with the rest of the traffic, the INWARD FACING sign , will now and then be completely out of sight.

    I am sure , that if a few people , get their heads together, they could make a real case of this, I don’t think that the Bus Lane will disappear, but I am sure
    that it would result in much better sign posting, and information display,
    which could save a lot of motorists a lot of money.

    Of course, as I said, I looked all this up on Google Street View, and maybe changes have already taken place.

  26. Bob Land

    Please check out the The Blackheath Society Website, there are two articles on this subject.

  27. Paul L

    After all the stick they’ve got for their campaign against the music festival, what a great way it would be to win back support if the Blackheath Society were to fight against the bus lane and get it removed!

  28. Blackheath Bird

    In their Spring 2011 newsletter (anyone can download it), the Blackheath Society have an impenetrable article about the bus lane. Apparently they made a study and I think, though I could so easily be wrong, they decided there wasn’t much of a problem, it’s the traffic lights not the bus lane that cause the hold-ups. As with so many other issues, if the BlackSoc actually listened to what local people want, even if that means engaging in the despised blogosphere, they might be a little more popular just now.

    • Anonymous

      You make the assumption that BlackSoc does not listen to local residents. Your evidence, I presume, is based on what has been discussed here about the festival. That assumes the views here are representative of what local people want. It also dismisses several decades of listening to – and acting on – what local people want.

      What about decades of litter collection, graffiti erasing, wading through endless council papers, attending endless council meetings, fighting closure of local shops, restoring historic buildings, funding publicity to attract visitors, charity fund raising, etc, etc. Isn’t that what local people want?

  29. Blackheath Bird

    It’s never a good idea to “assume”, Ms Anonymous!
    What we don’t want is an amenity society committee that makes decisions without even consulting its own members, let alone the rest of the community.

    What we don’t want is a bus lane whose only purpose is to collect revenue for Lewisham council.

    What we do want is a proper,council-funded library with decent stocks of books and qualified librarians.

    I’m sure the BlackSock has done fantastic things over the decades, but this is now, and you need to think about a new approach if you are to gain new friends..

    • Anonymous

      I find it remarkable that so many non-members of BlackSoc take umbrage about this “non consultation” and the “waste” of members’ money. It has been explained several times how opinion was sought via email and word of mouth and that little or no dissent was expressed by members then or at a subsequent AGM. BlackSoc has also led the defence of the library – not just this time but on several previous occasions. When that fight seemed unwinnable, it helped raise £250,000 towards a replacement.

      • ThePirateKing

        I’m a member and I wrote in as did others, so please don’t say ‘no dissent’ regarding their policy on the NIMBY event.

        I don’t think the BS did anywhere near enough to defend the library, quickly jumping ship to the idea of a smaller one in Age Exchange, but that’s just my own view.

        They have done much good work over the years regarding local matters, but I think the people that run it might be a little distant now from the normal members. Again, just my view.

  30. Bob Land

    Hear Hear Anonymous, well said !

  31. Blackheath Bird

    Getting back to the subject of this thread, what is the caring, listening BlackSoc doing about the bus lane? A lot of us out here really, really don’t like it. We really think it should go.

  32. Driven to distraction

    I’m new to the area,having only lived here since 1995. In those 16 years I’ve driven countless times down the left hand lane through the vilage, especially as I’ve lived in Wemyss Rd for 12 of those years. Imagine my surprise (in June) to receive a little note from the Council complimenting me on my driving skills, enclosing Kodak moment pictures to record it for posterity and soliciting a donation towards their costs.

    It says a little bit about me and a little bit about the communication on this issue that I was blissfully unaware of it until I got the fine. My reaction was to do a bit of searching on the internet and I discovered all the furore going on. I decided to pay the fine, although there does appear to be grounds for contesting (on technicalities). I want to object to the bus lane’s existence, not just try and avoid the (hopefully) one off ticket. If you follow the various different technical arguments that have been employed in avoiding tickets you will see that as one is highlighted, the Council slowly but surely moves to avoid it – such as the wording of the PCNs, which was flawed at the beginning but corrected over time.

    There does appear to be no value in having the lane that’s IN the village there… apart from the 1 million reasons that are all revenue related. It doesn’t assist traffic flow. It forces one to drive across to the outside lane when exiting Wemyss Road for all of 30 yards, before crossing back to get through the village. This seems pointless when there’s no traffic and impossible when there’s loads. In either case, unneccesary lane changing is detrimental to safety.

    As for the lane to the North of Wemyss Road, I do wonder how a resident (in possession of a residents parking permit (obtained at the recently doubled fee cost) is supposed to get their vehicle into the residents parking bays that are to the left of the bus lane?

    I suspect this whole bus lane was a friday afternoon idea, no doubt after a trip to the Pub, and perhaps that’s why it wasn’t actually enforced for so many years? I’m off to the Blackheath Village Residents Group site and hey perhaps even the Blackheath Soc one to see what I can do to help protest more formally.

    Oh and for anyone about to rant about us car users… I cycle with my daughter to her school every day. I hate Southeastern with a passion but still use their trains a lot and sometimes even resort to using my legs to walk places.

  33. Belinda

    As if the bus lane/camera wasn’t annoying enough when it’s working I find the road signs telling you the lane restriction has been temporarily removed even more so. The sign by the Princess of Wales pub / pop duck pond makes it really hard to see oncoming traffic as you are puling out of the junction. I’ll be surprised if it hasn’t caused a few accidents already :(

  34. Anonymous

    I see the bus lane has been repainted. I presume that means the council is short of money [again]. Prepare for apocolypse.

    • Anonymous

      Much celebration greeted the end of the bus lane last year and now the last traces have been obliterated by the new layer of Tarmac [even though public notices implied it would stretcxh only from the PoW to Wemyss Road.
      But as a wise man once saidf; “Be careful what you wish for.” Cars are back to parking on both sides of Montpellier when the single yellow lines allow, turning this key link road back to single lane and leaving buses only inches to squeeze through. The village was blocked for more than an hour this afternoon because one driver parked an extra few inches from the kerb. Time for double yellows on one side, methinks.

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