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Fair Go: Motorists caught out by bus lane cameras questioning whether fines are revenue-gathering scheme

Auckland motorists caught out by bus lane cameras are questioning whether they're being caught out by a revenue-gathering scheme. 

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If you’ve been stung for being in a bus lane sooner than you should be, you’re not alone. Source: Fair Go

The permanent camera installed at the end of the bus lane where Queen Street and Customs Street meet hands out around $2 million dollars in fines each year.

"It’s a very expensive camera," says driver Ben Gaines – who’s been busted in the bus lane three times this year.

By law, motorists are allowed to enter a bus lane in its last 50 metres. But there’s no requirement to tell drivers where that 50 metre mark is.

So, if you’re like Ben – not the best at judging distance – you can easily get caught out being in the bus lane at the wrong time.

"It’s cost me a bit of money," he admits. "Around $450 so far".

The camera in question is placed at the end of the bus lane, and right in front of one of the city’s busiest pedestrian crossings.

In peak hours, traffic often builds up across the two lanes coming down from Queen Street – one to turn left, and one to turn right.

Motorists who want to turn left have to wait in the right turn-only lane though, to avoid being caught by the camera.

"This is the only way to get out of Queen Street once you get to this point so you spend a lot of time waiting in that lane. And people have beeped at me as well because they want to turn right, and I want to be going left".

Auckland Transport supplied Fair Go with figures showing the camera makes up a significant portion of the more than $12 million issued in bus lane fines each year.

Between February 2018 and February 2019, the camera caught 15,048 breaches of the road rules on this part of the bus lane – at $150 a fine that’s more than $2.2 million a year.

Across Auckland, the agency issued 80,574 infringement notices – equivalent to more than $12 million annually.

While Auckland Transport is keen to point out bus lanes are part of an holistic approach to get the city moving better, Ben’s got another theory.

"I think they just want us out of Queen Street," he says.

He’s not entirely wrong – Auckland Transport says it does want to reduce the number of cars in the central city.