Council Rethinks Bus Lane Fines


Auckland City’s transport committee heard today that manned cameras watching motorists are the best way to stop vehicles sneaking into bus lanes when they’re not permitted to do so.

A sign indicating the 50 metre limit before vehicles can enter lanes to turn was considered impractical, confusing and costly - and research showed it didn’t change vehicle behaviour.

In the wake of media hysteria about the number of motorists being pinged for entering the bus lanes too early before turning, today’s committee meeting sought to introduce initiatives that show it’s taking a “fair and reasonable approach” to enforcement.

Committee chair Ken Baguley said it wasn’t the council that had imposed the $150 figure for a fine for bus lane infringements and the council would lobby the government to reduce the fine to a “more appropriate level.”

A council officer reported to the committee that month - long research had been carried out by a research company and concluded:

  • One week when there was no compliance saw one in 6 cars using a bus lane
  • The mere presence of a person with a camera caused infringement to drop
  • The best option was when there was both a camera and a sign saying a camera was operating
  • It wasn’t about ignorance of the law but a willingness by people to actually comply with it
  • Putting up 50 metre signs had no significant difference
  • Some motorists seeing someone monitoring the lanes shouted abuse
  • There was a herd mentality: when motorists saw one person sneak into a lane, they and others followed

Today’s meeting approved:

Clearer markings

  • Extending the bus lane marking right up to, and through the intersection where possible, to avoid instances where bus lanes stop and start (the source of some confusion for motorists)
  • Lobbying the NZTA 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

Increased warnings

  • Encouraging correct use of bus lanes where there is high levels of non-compliance, a sign indicating that a bus lane camera is in operation will be placed for a temporary period

Camera positioning

  • Where locations allow, cameras located in such a way that it is possible to view not only the bus lane, but whether a left hand turn was taken be an infringing motorist
  • At locations, where in order to comply with the bus lane, the road layout clearly encourages unsafe driving, enforcement will not be carried out

Applying greater tolerance

  • Only issuing tickets where a motorist has used a bus lane well in excess of 50m
  • Waving tickets 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 meters from a corner

In another resolution, the council committee approved in principle for existing 24-hour bus lanes in Fanshawe St, Symonds St, Anzac Ave and park Rd to instead operate as 12 hours bus lanes between 7am and 7pm, and operate as clearways outside these times. The council will seek ARTA support for the changes.




  1. Harry says:

    Provided they operate 7am-7pm Mon-Sun then I’m okay with this. Perhaps issue a warning notice for the first offence informing them that on their next offence they will be ticketed. I think get permission from NZTA to cut the fine to say $80 but give the driver 25 license demerit points

  2. Scott says:

    I think this research missed the point somewhat. The purpose of of enforcement should be to reduce the number of illegal entries into bus lanes regardless if they are monitored or not.

    “The best option was when there was both a camera and a sign saying a camera was operating”

    Surly this cannot be the best option overall. It would be incredibly expensive to do this at every bus lane in Auckland, and by placing warning signs ahead of cameras people will learn that it is OK to drive in other bus lanes.

    Whats inappropriate about a $150 fine? In California HOV lane fines were over $US300 minimum (i forget the exact amount). I understand first time offenders get the minimum fine and multiple offenders get fined more. The best single improvement i can think of is to have the value of the bus lane fine on some of the signs in high infringement areas.

    Having manned cameras seems like an unnecessary expense. I understand they use unmanned cameras overseas.

  3. Andrew says:

    “In another resolution, the council committee approved in principle for existing 24-hour bus lanes in Fanshawe St, Symonds St, Anzac Ave and park Rd to instead operate as 12 hours bus lanes between 7am and 7pm, and operate as clearways outside these times. The council will seek ARTA support for the changes.”

    What is the point of this? Which of these routes is congested overnight that require that a simple rule - “This is a bus lane, end of story” - be made more complicated?

  4. Andrew says:

    Actually, this could violate their funding agreement with the NZTA as it’s the Central Transit Corridor they want to cut the hours of.

    Also the buses are still quite busy past 7pm up that way.

    WRT Fanshawe, it’s two/three car lanes anyway so this is utterly pointless.

  5. Scott says:

    Andrew, Clearway means after hours parking.

    A lot of the areas they mention have parking/loading/motorbike bays behind the bus lane which would complicate there operation as clearways.

    There will be a few intercity residents with cars but no off street parking that will vocally support this. However I feel it adds more complexity to a bus lane scheme which is already to complex for many drivers. Administering clearways is a hassle as you have to have parking officers and tow trucks visit every morning to tow the cars which the owners have forgotten to move. Towing cars is politically bad, but they cannot be allowed to remain in the buslane at 7am.

    The roads mentioned are already busy at 7am and are often still busy at 7pm, 6am-9pm may be more appropriate if the additional complexity must be added.

  6. Andrew says:

    Sorry Scott, “Parking” means after-hours parking.

    A clearway is a way clear of parked cars - ie a traffic lane.

    See the Wikipedia article defining a clearway.

    Alo see dictionary references.

  7. Andrew says:

    From Wikipedia:

    In New Zealand, a clearway is section of road on which it is illegal to stop for any reason other than a breakdown or an obstruction to the road such as stationary traffic. Clearways may operate at all times or for limited times such as peak traffic flow times. As such, they operate in a similar way to those in the United Kingdom.

    (my other comment contains a link to it and got moderated because links look spammy)

  8. Jon C says:

    @Andrew have fixed

  9. Scott says:

    Yeah, I looked up after I made the comment. Sorry about my mis-infomation.

    I’m confused they call it a clearway then. just have it outside the bus lane operation hours and paint yellow lines along the curbs. In NZ the only time clearways are used is to have off peak parking and on peak traffic lanes.

    Im pretty sure they mean parking (even though clearway means the opposite). A clearway in the “correct” sense of the word would add complication while offering minimal advantages.

  10. Andrew says:

    Well with some of their recent proposals, I wonder why wouldn’t it surprise me if the ACC transport committee didn’t know what a clearway was?

  11. karl says:

    Screw this CR council. Just ANOTHER rubbish idea to damage Auckland’s transport system before they shuffle off. Yeah, ARTA / Auckland Transport should consider it. Consider it rubbish, that is.

  12. Albo says:

    My wife has never had a ticket and would not knowingly break the law, we are now lumbered with $150.00 fine for simply trying to turn left at an intersection,the council really does need to re-think this.

  13. Nick R says:

    Albo, if she got a ticket then she wasn’t just turning left at an intersection, she was driving in a bus lane to turn left at an intersection. Ok so they did not knowingly break the law, but now will she ever make the same mistake again?

    I think the key issue here is that many Auckland drivers can’t get beyond the view that they are entitled to drive anywhere the like anytime they please on any part of the roadway.

    If Auckland is ever going to fix it’s transport problems then it must progress on things like bus lanes, as we just can’t solve traffic with more roads alone. Unfortunately this means occasional limits on the previously unchecked freedom of motorists to do what they like whenever, and that of course is not going to be popular.

  14. Camel says:

    Nick R you are missing the point. The current standards for signage and road markings are appalling at identifying many bus lanes in Auckland. A $150 fine is an expensive lesson! Do you not think a warning for first time offenders would achieve the same result?! Most people are supportive of what bus lanes are attempting to do - however the enforcement methodologies, lack of compassion to aggrieved road users and failure to respond to the issues detailed by legitimate victims of this regime are the major issues. Dr Warburton has a challenge ahead of him with respect to resurrecting Auckland Transport’s customer facing image for an issue which should not even be on his radar.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>