How do you convince Auckland Transport you did have the kids in the back when they ticket you for using the T3 lane?

Paul Martin came to Fair Go with a story about competitive barbecuing, rush hour traffic and $170 fine that he didn’t deserve.

"I don’t want to pay it cause I'm not liable for it. There were three people in the vehicle. Do they not include children as people?”

Paul had been moving two gazebos for Meatstock, the competitive barbecue competition. 

Paul says he’s won prizes for his chicken with one team. Yes, barbecuing can be a team sport.

Paul had two small children secured in a car seat and capsule in the back, but between the gazebos stowed inside and the tints on his windows, you could only just glimpse one of the passengers and the transport camera guy on the roadside snapped him.

"Even at that time I thought 'I could have some trouble with this, but didn’t think to even stop because I’d block up traffic."

Paul had been busted on a Friday at 7:30am on one of the busiest side-roads in Auckland and it’s a nightmare numbers game.

Here are the facts from Auckland Transport: Onewa Rd feeds nearly 3000 cars and buses from the North Shore onto the motorways every weekday in the morning peak.

Some commuters think rules restricting who can use Onewa Rd's T3 lane don't apply to them. Source: Seven Sharp

More than two thirds of the vehicles are stuck in a regular lane crawling along at 3km per hour on average.

But two thirds of the humans moved along the road in traffic are using the T3 lane reserved for cars with three or more passengers, or buses and motorbikes. They are moving about four times faster - seven minutes of traffic for them instead of nearly half an hour for those still driving alone.

For John Strawbridge from Auckland Transport, the main drivers are keeping people moving and keeping them honest.

"There's nothing more frustrating for people that are in the correct lane seeing a single person going past in the T3 lane when they're doing the right thing. That's pretty frustrating for the public."

What Paul found frustrating was AT’s deaf ear, despite his repeated attempts to resolve things over the phone.

"They give you a bit of empathy but at the end of the day they just keep sending you reminder notices. It wasn't until I started getting them from Baycorp, threatening, that I thought ‘what's going on here?’"

Paul had sought a court hearing, but AT somehow missed that step and persisted with enforcement, passing this to the Ministry of Justice for collection.

Paul was getting hotter than one of his special barbecue sauces.

"I'm pretty angry about it to be honest, you don't seem to be able to get a chance to go forward and explain yourself."

Fair Go had a simple question for Auckland Transport – who must prove themselves? Does Paul have to show he had three on board?

John Strawbridge from AT explains: "We have to prove that they didn't have three people in the car."

Since they can’t, he says AT has decided to accept Paul’s word for it and waive the fine. It didn’t help that AT had slipped up and didn’t handle the request for a court hearing.

Tinted windows didn’t help either, but AT hopes new cameras it is testing will soon be able to peer through tints into cars.

So, be warned. If that’s a pet dog or a dummy you dressed up and strapped in the back, so you can fake your carpooling, you will be found out!

Paul Martin came to Fair Go with a story about a $170 fine that he didn’t deserve. Source: Fair Go