After a backlash over its overzealous issuing of bus lane fines, Auckland City Council has today announced a number of new initiatives "to ensure a fair and reasonable approach" to bus lane enforcement.
The Herald revealed in July that the council had netted more than $4.2 million in bus lane fines over the past financial year.
Motorists are allowed to drive in bus lanes if turning left and within 50m of an intersection, but are liable to be fined $150 if they enter the bus lane too early.
The Herald revealed council officers often placed cameras at the 50m mark to record infringements, but there were no road signs to indicate to drivers when it was okay to enter the lane.
After Transport Minister Steven Joyce warned the council not to be "too pedantic and too bloody-minded" when enforcing bus lane rules, the council announced a month-long trial starting at the beginning of August of putting markers in place to show the 50m mark.
With the one-month period up and the findings of the trial reported to the Transport Committee today, the commmittee's chairman, Councillor Ken Baguley, said the council decided not to implement the 50-metre sign permanently because there was no evidence it changed driver behaviour and it was "impractical and confusing".
Instead, bus lane markings will be made clearer and will extend right up to the intersection, and the council will lobby the New Zealand Transport Agency "to look at whether there should be a national standard for an affordable form of on-road marking that would more clearly identify the bus lane and that might indicate an appropriate point from which to start making left turn".
Where there are "high levels of non-compliance",signs warning bus lane cameras are operating will be put in place temporarily.
The council has also said that bus lane rules won't be enforced "where in order to comply with the bus lane, the road clearly encourages unsafe driving".
Perhaps most importantly, there will also be greater tolerance, says Mr Baguley.
Tickets will only be issued where a driver has used a bus lane "well in excess of 50m" and fines will be waived where there has been "a genuine attempt to enter the all-user lane, or the motorist was clearly avoiding cutting in on a bus by entering the lane more than 50 metres from a corner".
Mr Baguley said the council wasn't able to reduce the $150 fine because it wasn't responsible for setting it, but "will lobby central government to reduce the fine to a more appropriate level".
- NZ Herald staff