Meet Belfast’s millionaire traffic camera…

Nice work from the Belfast Telegraph (and another good reason for moving the Open Government agenda further down the road), who discovered that one traffic camera in Belfast has raised £1million in bus lane fines alone

Situated at Donegall Square East, it is responsible for 18,000 penalties being issued to city centre commuters in just 15 months. On an average day the bus lane will raise around £2,700.

It comes as new figures reveal the number of vehicles caught driving in the lanes has passed the 50,000 mark. In total, the cameras have generated more than £2.7m since last June.

A smart investment surely? But if they don’t share the news, then they’re not likely to change generaal behaviours.

  • hgreen

    I pity any tourist having to drive in Belfast at the moment. Those bus lanes between the courts and waterfront are nuts.

  • Declan Doyle

    Well done to the politicians involved who created the legislation that allowed the camera to be installed

  • Gopher

    And still empty buses glide by. Total shakedown and expect this tax to expand everywhere just like the spurious speed cameras

  • chrisjones2

    So many tickets means that either the scheme has utterly failed or people are simply confused.

    This a prime example of NI. The majority of motorists detect this system. We have no power to change it. Kennedy was useless as a Minister simply held hostage by his officials. Who will now dare switch this off?

    Today I was forced (and I now have to be forced ) to visit Belfast City Centre. I know that is what the planners want but god help businesses I would have used in the past.

    Coming off the Queen Elizabeth Bridge into Oxford I was flanked on my right by a bus. He headed into the right hand lane – the one supposed to be used by cars – and just ignored the bus lane provided for him. This forced me to accelerte as hard as I could to get into the correct lane and not end being shoved illegally into the bus lane. Later on Great Victoria Street it was just the same. Empty inner bus lane and large slow moving bus blocking the outer lane as it would then be easier for him to enter Wellington Place on the Right Hand lanes (again the ones supposed to be for cars). I assume this was because he didn’t want to use the bus lanes in Wellington Place

    So we have lots of bus lanes that the buses often dont want to use, buses often blocking lanes that are all the space left for us drivers and tax payers and camera that fine us millions if we stray into the bus lanes that some bus drivers dont seem to like

    Over to you minister. You are responsible for this mess, your officials designed it and you employ the bus drivers who ignore your own bus lanes.

    And as yet we dont even have the ‘benefit’ of the huge killer bendy buses tarted up to look like trams

  • Brendan Heading

    Nice work from the Belfast Telegraph

    I disagree Mick – it’s populist, lazy trash of the Daily Mail stable, stoking up the popular outrage of the selfish motorists while failing to explain the proper context and purpose of the bus lanes.

    I’ve never had a speeding ticket, a bus lane ticket, or a parking violation ticket in my life. This is because I, like most people, carefully keep an eye on the road conditions and speed limits. People who do not are lucky they are not being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, because that’s the only reason why someone would unknowingly discover themselves driving on a prohibited part of the road.

  • Brendan Heading

    This a prime example of NI. The majority of motorists detect this system. We have no power to change it.

    Lazy and nonsensical logic. Do the majority of motorists support congestion charges in London ? Do they have power to change it ?

  • hgreen

    Disagree. The bus lanes in the city centre have been designed by idiots. Motorists have a right to complain. Also congestion isn’t as big issue in the city centre as it is on the arteries into the city so I can only assume the city centre cameras are a money making racket.

  • Brendan Heading

    Motorists have every right to complain; it doesn’t mean they are right.

    The government wouldn’t make a single penny from bus lane cameras if motorists simply followed the rules. Almost all of them do.

  • billypilgrim1

    If you’re averaging 50 or 60 people getting fined here every workday – and in most cases they’ll be going 25mph or so – then it may be that the speed limit is too low for the prevailing conditions.

    There was never a problem when the speed limit at the back of City Hall was 30. A too-low limit allied with zealous enforcement equals a legalised shakedown, in my book.

  • Oggins

    Read the road signs, get use to it, it is here to stay. The other option is to get the bus.

    We all want better public transportation

  • hgreen

    When the rules are complicated or unfair sometimes it’s difficult to follow them. You seem to be of the opinion that the motorist is always wrong. In this case they have a valid complaint and I’m no petrolhead.

  • aquifer

    Buses are fuller than they have been for years. And more and more motorists are taking the bicycle to work rather than add to the jams.

    We have got to pay for those pensioner’s bus passes somehow. Put them back on the road and the whole thing will slow down.

  • aquifer

    Maybe its about driving people onto buses, creating virtual roads capacity in areas where there is no room for more cars. Nobody is going to widen roads in cities any more, it just creates noise pollution and danger for everybody else.

  • chrisjones2

    Those charges have a purpose. These bus lanes don’t work and dont. They do two thing:

    1 fleece motorists
    2 try to established a monopoly for the biusc company …which is owned by ….?

  • chrisjones2

    If its working why do buses not use the bus lanes in the critical areas?

  • chrisjones2

    Ever been shunted into none by a bus in the next lane

    Of course you can stop and wait for the bang from behind

  • Brendan Heading

    You seem to be of the opinion that the motorist is always wrong.

    Hardly, I’m a “motorist” myself. My opinion is that I don’t understand why some – a minority in fact – of motorists think that the road layout should be changed because they are unable to navigate it.

    Billy

    There was never a problem when the speed limit at the back of City Hall was 30.

    I think we might be talking across purposes. There hasn’t been a single person fined for breaking the speed limit in the 20mph zone – this was covered in the papers a couple of weeks ago. The problem is people violating the bus lanes.

    The one at Donegal Square East is impossible to miss. There is a huge flashing sign there now, and half of the road is painted red. If you’re driving at 20mph you have more time to take account of the road conditions ahead and plan accordingly.

  • Brendan Heading

    Nope. Generally, when I see a bus I avoid overtaking it if I think it’s likely that it might attempt to pull into a lane.

    In any case, anyone who drives into you either from the side or – especially – from behind is going to end up on the losing side of whatever the argument is.

  • Brendan Heading

    These bus lanes don’t work and dont.

    In order to respond to this, I need to understand what you think a working bus lane looks like.

    2 try to established a monopoly for the biusc company …which is owned by ….?

    Any bus, including private buses, along with public hire taxis and cyclists, can use bus lanes.

    The objective is to discourage vehicles and encourage the use of buses. That is why they are there. Making it more difficult and less convenient to use a car is the point. If you think this is the wrong thing to do, then you should say that, rather than suggesting that it is the implementation which is the problem.

  • Brendan Heading

    As I pointed out to others. Skip the shakedown by driving properly. It’s dead easy and almost everyone manages it.

  • aquifer

    Not sure. No stops on them? A lack of private investment reducing traffic volumes so the roads are freeer of jams? Does this vary at different times? As professional drivers of large vehicles, are they steering clear of cyclists? They use the ones at the start of bus routes OK.

    Translink has part time drivers to deal with peak demands. Have they just forgotten they are driving a bus this morning ??!

  • Gopher

    Not the buses I’m seeing daily. Now your really not getting this but Belfast city centre lives or dies on retail sales. It is competing against things like the Amazon and Expedia. Amazon does not charge me for parking it does not charge me a bus fare it does not charge me petrol and it does not put me in traffic jams it does not fine me nor give me penalty points when there is absolutely no chance of an accident and it delivers to whatever address I want.

    The main problem that afflicts our roads apart from trying to indirectly tax motorists by fines is the school run, the second is reducing road space to make bus lanes for empty services and Taxis! The third problem is the civil service with free parking who wont use public transport when more than adequate services exist. The fourth is Bicycles on dual carriage ways at rush hour funneling cars into the outside lane.

    Translink is the most inefficient service bar none and if any reporter cares to put in a public information request about how much they spend on taxis I think that statement will be glaringly obvious.

  • hgreen

    A minority? Do you have figures?

  • aquifer

    Should the number one problem not be ‘two longer school runs instead of one’ ? Sectarianism costs both time and money.

    Roads capacity is limited by the junctions and the settings of traffic lights. There are few junctions with bus lanes. I have seem plenty of dozy logic in how lights are set up. e.g. Not automatically giving pedestrians the green light when it is safe to cross, so that they must press the button later instead.

    “civil service with free parking who wont use public transport” is a huge problem. How many spaces do they have within half a mile of the centre?

  • Gopher

    Correct the number one problem is segregated education on the basis of Gender and Religion. We simply cannot afford to continue this nonsense.

    You have a 20 MPH speed limit and you have pedestrian crossings every fifty metres in the city centre. Total nonsense.

    The value of the land vis a vis free civil service car parking is a blindingly obvious consideration anywhere. This free lunch needs to end if we are serious about congestion. The civil service should be charged for parking period. This will help them support their brothers and sisters in translink by making the bus a consideration just like the private sector.

    Again while we are on public information requests for Taxis for Translink lets have one for every civil service department.

  • Brendan Heading

    Who says they don’t ?

  • Brendan Heading

    Yes. According to the article, in the worst case at Donegall Square East, 17,972 tickets were issued over a 15 month period. That’s an average of roughly 39 tickets per day.

    Significantly more than 39 cars traverse Donegall Square East per day. At peak times, such as any weekday lunchtime, at least that number would pass through in a five minute period.

  • babyface finlayson

    Brendan
    “There hasn’t been a single person fined for breaking the speed limit in the 20mph zone ”
    I did not read that. Is there an official breaking in period as there was with the bus lanes and if so for how long?
    Although I broadly agree with you I have to admit it is very very easy to creep over 20 mph.

  • hgreen

    All very interesting but how does it support your statement that only a minority of motorists think the road layout should be changed?

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Motorists break the law, ignore clearly signed directions on speed and bus lanes and are fined. The more the merrier I say.

    Indeed any individual fined multiple times for the same offence should then be banned from driving, say initially for a three month period. They’re obviously not driving with ‘due care and attention’.

    I drive through the centre of Belfast pretty frequently. I’ve found it advantageous to do so with my eyes open. I understand that it’s my responsibility as a driver to ensure that I am driving safely. A big part of that is being alert to changing road and traffic conditions.

    I’m also very aware, from way back to the time when I first picked up a copy of the Highway Code, that road signage is provided (at significant public cost) to assist my information gathering and assist me to drive in a safe manner. That’s why I tend to pay close attention to them.

  • hgreen

    The people at the road service who designed the bus layout are clearly geniuses and never wrong. I think we need to know who they are so that their talents can be recognised and used solving other problems in the city.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    I think “geniuses” is rather extreme. I’d settle on ‘competent road engineers’. I’d imagine that having to redesign the traffic management system within the confines of existing road layouts in the centre of a city, with all the competing demands that must bring, would be quite challenging.

    As to these other problems you refer to, write to the Department and make them aware of them. If a traffic management issue is identified the first step will be a traffic survey, followed by an engineer’s report, and (if the money is available) work will be undertaken to address the problem.

  • Oggins

    Designed by competent persons to the agrees standards and legislation.

    We have been backward in this country, to the degree people feel its fine to use bus lanes, stick the hazard lights on, because they only have to pick up one item.

    For such a small city we are all committed to using our cars. Get the bus, use the bike, or walk.

    The changes were clearly identified, warned and marked out. If your foolish, naive, or green enough, then so be it.

  • Oggins

    Are you a road engineer? What gives your the authority to claim it waz designed by idiots?

    I would be of the opinion, if you cant read the road signs or understand the traffic layout, your obviously not in control of your vehicle

  • Oggins

    Highlight, recently got your licence. You need more experience in the car.

  • Oggins

    In short Jarl, we are catching up with every other modern city. For years this attitude of sure it will be grand, or nothing will happen is been found out by the cameras. Rightly so, if your silly enough to drive in the bus lane you deserve the fine.

    Those that live within Belfast, have you actually tried the bus? Guess what it works, your not worrying about parking, cameras, etc

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I crept into a bus lane yesterday in Glasgow.

    It was my fault.

    If i receive a fine because of it then ho hum; annoying but lesson learnt.

    Today I will be paying closer attention to road markings and signs.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Not before time!

    I use the train on the Derry line frequently, although I have to say not as far as all the way to the Maiden City. Trains are on time (or a couple of minutes late), clean and crewed by friendly staff. I also use park and ride when I’m intending to spend time in Belfast. Again the buses are dependable and easy to use.

    Of course there are problems, I can’t see why bus and train timetables can’t be better tailored to be a better fit. The lack of a rail connection to any of the airports is a disgrace.

    No matter. For some the desire to drive a car, usually with only one person inside, right up to the front door (and I think beyond if only they could) of their chosen destination still remains. IMHO the carrot hasn’t worked, so let’s see the stick having its day.

  • hgreen

    The bus lane between the Waterfront and the courts looks like it was designed by a child with a crayon.

  • hgreen

    The number of accidents on the stretch of road between the waterfront and the courts would indicate there’s a problem. The number of people getting caught by the cameras would also indicate there’s a problem with signage. My guess is that’s deliberate though in order to raise money.

  • Oggins

    Na looks like they have been designed by a competent person using the road traffic sign and marking chapters. Very clear on where to go and how to get there.

    Fyi, I was not involved in this project, but have worked in a previous life with in civil engineering.

    Ignorance is bliss. I dont understand Italian, but I am not insulting the creator because of my short comings

  • Oggins

    Nope, the number of incidents, (correct term, to apply accident, deems it was not avoidable), is purely down to people not paying attention. If I crash the car, on a newly designed road, its purely due to my lack of care and attention.

    These roads have been designed by competent engineers. If the persons using the road are not competent or not paying attention, its not the designers fault.

    Good work men do not blame their tools

  • Oggins

    Again are you a road engineer?

  • Oggins

    Agree that bus times etc could be better. I suppose the best way to get people to use the bus is to make it quick and easy, so improve the city centre, and improve the main routes. So tick and a work in progress.

    Second factor is make it cheaper and flexible to peoples needs! Work in progress I say

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    No it was designed by an engineer given the brief to facilitate the (relatively) rapid transit of buses – you’ll no doubt be shocked to learn that that is the actual purpose of a bus lane.

    I know that stretch of roadway very well. The bus lane is well signed and well placed to allow the buses coming from Donegall Quay and from across the bridge to access it as they travel east, south and west of the city.

    No matter the signage, importantly the signs warning motorists they are approaching a bus lane, I often see drivers moving off from the traffic lights at the end of the bridge and then trying to force their way into the right hand lane (the one closest to the courts) as if taken by surprise by the “crayon” coloured bus lane appearing magically in front of them.

    All this despite the mounted signs, and having driven over huge-lettered lane markings and big arrows from way back at the Customs House advising them which direction each lane is going in.

  • hgreen

    Nope. I’m a road user and pay towards the roads. Am I not allowed an opinion?

  • hgreen

    OK, let’s get rid of all road safety measures and just tell everyone to pay attention.

    How do you know they are competent? Do you need to be a qualified engineer to do this? I’d have thought town planning would be the qualification.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Correct on “accidents”. Nowadays referred to by the police, insurance companies etc as ‘traffic collisions’.

    If a driver is travelling on a marked bus lane (crayon-coloured on Oxford Street just to make it even more noticeable) they didn’t get there ‘by accident’.

    The driver drove his or her vehicle there purposefully themselves (one hopes when fully awake and competent to control a motor vehicle). To try to apportion blame to a piece of asphalt, which is just laid there minding its own business, is a rather startling abdication of responsibility on behalf of the driver in question.

    ……or perhaps bus lane materialising is indeed magic. There may be a lot of the supernatural out there on the roads that we Muggles don’t know anything about. A driver who once nearly succeeded in knocking me off my bike informed me that I had “just appeared out of nowhere”. Perhaps a wand is what’s needed when venturing out on the local roads?

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Lol!

    I’d almost convinced myself that we’ed gone beyond the old ‘I pay my road tax’ argument to attempt to excuse the minority of motorists who fail/refuse to obey the rules of the road.

  • hgreen

    It seems you’ve convinced yourself of a lot of things including that urban planners can’t make mistakes.

  • Oggins

    Your allowed an opinion of course, but when you start calling people idiots, or saying the road looks like it was coloured in with crayon, with no logic apart from a lack of understanding on how roads are designed deserves to be challenged. Ignorance is not a defence.

  • Oggins

    Well funny enough google the german town called Bohmte, there are some interesting posts on traffic management.

    Yes there are a ream of engineering disciplines from designing, installation and maintenance. Google road traffic chapter manuals, and you can see some of the standards used.

    In terms of getting rid of all measures, it defeats the whole point! The camera are there to punish those abusing the roads. The roads is kept clear to enable better public transport, which reduces traffic. Win, win.

  • Oggins

    I too recently got told to get off the road and use the footpath for my road bike… which is illegal.

    The funny thing is, I was told this whilst sitting at the traffic lights, within the bike lane…..

    In fairness, the whole 6ft, 15stone, high viz colours, 10am on a summers day and lights made me incredibly transparent according to the drive who was driving the cycle lane, thus the conversation.

  • hgreen

    I’m an engineer myself and know that civil engineers are involved in road design. Deciding where to draw a red line on a road I’m not sure requires a skilled engineer.

    I’ve no issue with bus lane enforcement. I do have an issue with badly designed bus lanes and cameras strategically placed to make money rather than to improve public safety and traffic management.

  • hgreen

    I’m guessing its the incredible smugness and sense of entitlement of some cyclists that pisses some drivers off. That and having to look at their lycra wrapped meat and 2 veg.

  • Oggins

    Well its designed to improve traffic management and not safety. Its is doing exactly that.

    Your opinion is its badly designed. I personally believe it is not and the fact it has been installed and signed off, would indicate an element of due process

  • Oggins

    Yeah, some shocking cyclists out there I agree. Some shocking car drivers, lorry drivers, bus, motorcyclists.

    I personally dont look at their genitals when driving in my car, because I try to focus on the road and surrounding traffic

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Please point me to the comment where I said”urban planners can’t make mistakes”?

    No wait, to save you the bother you’ll not find it.

    Still, now I can guess why you seem to have difficulty reading road signs.

    Should’ve gone to Specsavers! 😀

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Now there’s your problem! Keep the appraisal of men’s tackle to your non-driving time.

    Concentrate a little more on the big poles with the road signs on them. They may not give you the same little flutter of excitement ‘down there’, but you will be a much safer driver.

  • hgreen

    Well you fail to admit there may be a problem with the bus lanes in Belfast despite evidence to the contrary.

  • chrisjones2

    How do avoid that in a multi-lane one way street where the traffic can move at different speeds in different lanes?

  • chrisjones2

    Bit it does ….its a mess and hard to see especially in traffic when forward vision is blocked by traffic. Heaven help strangers

  • chrisjones2

    …almost all do…but they are taking £3m a year in fines. Thats 50000 motorists a year or 100000 in 2 years or every driver in NI (on average) every 14 years – but as the lanes are in Belfast local drivers are at much more risk y are in Belfast its probably every driver in Belfast every 5 years or so (on average)

  • chrisjones2

    Do PSNI have any system to reliably detect speeds that low? And where would the vans park? In the bus lanes?

  • chrisjones2

    …there are few private buses …most are a public monopoly owned by the department that installed the bus lanes

    I do know what bus lanes are for and find it very odd that so many buses dont use them

  • chrisjones2

    Wait till the bendy buses arrive and you are the not in the nut cracker on some corners

  • Oggins

    Again, designed to legislation and standards. The reason why we have road signs is identify during heavy traffic. Also during rush hr the bus lanes will be less populated, so you can see the road markings.

    Ignorance is bliss

  • Oggins

    I will assume the bendy bus drivers will be adequately trained and designed. Quiet happy to share a bus lane on a bike.

  • babyface finlayson

    christ
    An interesting question. I would have assumed they can detect low speeds as easily as high..
    All I know is little old ladies on zimmer frames are scooting past me on Yok St as I splutter along in 2nd gear in my trusty pram.

  • sadie

    ab