Lane fines have parents up in arms

By Mathew Dearnaley

Mother twice asked to prove 6-year-old on board is fuming after getting warning.

Nuala Goldstein says she now uses T2 lanes with windows down to show son Kelvin, 6, is aboard. Photo / Natalie Slade
Nuala Goldstein says she now uses T2 lanes with windows down to show son Kelvin, 6, is aboard. Photo / Natalie Slade

Nuala Goldstein was put through hoops to prove she was driving lawfully in a high-priority lane after collecting her son from basketball.

The Albany resident was ticketed twice after Auckland Transport cameras failed to detect 6-year-old Kelvin sitting in the rear of her car in a T2 transit lane reserved for vehicles carrying at least two people.

Each time she had to provide evidence of her son's enrolment with the Junior Breakers' "love to hoop" development programme in Atlas Place, off Constellation Drive, where enforcement officers have had a bonanza since August.

Have you had a frustrating experience with transit lanes and Auckland Transport? Email us here.

The second time, she had to get a letter from the Breakers testifying that Kelvin had been at practice, and even then she is irked at being left with a written warning instead of an unconditional acquittal.

"They're telling me to take this as a warning. A warning for what? - I didn't break the law."

Mrs Goldstein said she is still using the lane, but with windows down to prove she is not by herself.

"One day it was bucketing down with rain, but I got my son to put the window down and the guy with the camera said: You're going to get wet."

"I said I'd rather get wet than have to deal with a [$150] fine."

She is one of several parents who have complained to the Herald of being ticketed because of difficulties Auckland Transport is having in detecting small children in cars.

North Shore lawyer Fin Meadows-Flower and her husband had to obtain a letter from their daughter's swim school off Constellation Drive after cameras failed to spot the child strapped into a booster seat.

Michael McKenzie said he was ticketed on the same route despite having his son in his car.

"Not sure that a signed statement from an 8-year-old will fly with Auckland Transport," he wrote.

John Stutton said he was challenged over why his son was sitting in a third row of seats in his vehicle, making him harder to see, and escaped prosecution only after the enforcement officer involved left his job.

The Automobile Association, which has intervened to get several drivers off fines for allegedly trespassing in North Shore transit lanes, wants Auckland Transport to accept responsibility for proving guilt, rather than requiring drivers to establish their innocence.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan would not be drawn on that, saying drivers must adhere to road rules set by Parliament and applicable across the country, and that those wishing to challenge tickets can request impartial consideration by an infringement review department within his organisation.

He disclosed earlier that the council body had looked into obtaining thermal imaging cameras, as suggested by another parent let off with a warning, but found none able to scan through glass or metal were available to non-military customers.

AA spokesman Mark Stockdale believes the problem requires common sense rather than a high-tech fix.

"All that is needed is for them to apply more discretion rather than investing in infra-red imaging equipment," he said.

"If someone writes in and provides an explanation that they were carrying passengers that explanation should be accepted."

Three-finger trio have tickets waived

Veteran car-pooler Simon Soulsby has escaped $300 of fines after Auckland Transport accepted statements from passengers that they were with him in a priority traffic lane.

The Glenfield resident had car-pooled successfully down Onewa Rd's T3 transit lane to work on Auckland's waterfront for three years before receiving two tickets in November for allegedly not carrying at least two passengers. After being told by Auckland Transport he would have to prove his right to be in the lane, he collected statements from his passengers, who he now asks to wind down windows and hold out three fingers to highlight to enforcement officers their presence in his car.

Mr Soulsby, an advertising account manager, said in an appeal letter to the council body that they shared rides "to cut down on emissions, save time, costs and do our bit to decongest Auckland roads" as recommended on the transport organisation's very own car-pooling website.

But after being pictured demonstrating the new salute with his passengers in the Herald on Friday, Mr Soulsby received a letter dated seven days earlier from Auckland Transport dropping its action unconditionally.

- NZ Herald

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