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Drivers wrongly using Guildford's bus lanes to face fines of up to £70

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Drivers wrongly using Guildford's bus lanes to face fines of up to £70

Published at 4:30pm 16th December 2019.

Motorists who drive in bus lanes along two Guildford roads will soon face fines of up to £70.

The charges for Woking Road and Onslow Street will be introduced in April 2020 after being agreed by the Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council Joint Committee on Wednesday (11 December).

But who benefits from the cash raised from the fines – which could top £620,000 – is still to be finalised after councillors hit out at plans for all the revenue to be used by Surrey County Council to fund schemes anywhere in the county and not specifically in Guildford.

SCC cabinet member for highways, Cllr Matt Furniss, who represents Shalford, stressed the fines were not being introduced to raise funds, but to ease congestion.

Bus Lane

He told the committee:

"The purpose of this is to manage the highway network and is not for a financial surplus. 

"It’s about highway enforcement and proper congestion traffic flow rather than income generation."

He added because other boroughs were also looking at bringing in fines, the council wanted the enforcement run by a “single source” which could be “in house” with another council or a private organisation or agency. 

But other councillors hit back, saying Guildford roads and highways should benefit from the fines raised in the borough.

Cllr Mark Brett-Warburton, Conservative for Guildford South East, said:

“We are talking about funding being raised from problems we have from our roads in Guildford. 

“So effectively our roads are being taxed and the money is being used not to alleviate problems in Guildford, but being used to resolve problems elsewhere in the county.

“I find that quite concerning.”

Bus Lane

The scheme has already been piloted in Woking. 

In September this year a traffic survey on the Guildford bus lanes on the two roads was carried out. 

Over two days there were 999 bus lane contraventions by drivers.

Figures for maximum and minimum annual contraventions were then estimated from these numbers. 

An estimation of potential revenue if all motorists pay the full fine of £70 was calculated at £620,690. 

A discounted rate of 50 per cent within an agreed period, costing £35, could potentially generate £310,345. 

But a report into the enforcement charges says officers think once the fines are introduced 98 per cent of drivers will “modify their behaviour” and so not incur the fines. 

This means the revenue generated will be a lot less. 

The bus lane enforcement charges were agreed by the councillors, subject to the committee’s approval of financial arrangements of the scheme.

An agency to run the enforcement also now needs to be sought.