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Bus Zil lanes

24 May

We’ve had a bit of fun, here in Edinburgh ever the past few weeks. The council decided to put up cameras to catch people using bus lanes. They only added a few but the effect was pretty horrendous.

They racked up 1700 fines in six days, that’s 1700 times £30.00 is £51,000 although some will pay £60 for missing the due date. People we being caught by the cameras as they crossed the bus lane to get into their drives. A mini cab driver ran up £1800 worth of fines as he was driving in the bus lane he thought he was entitled to use as a taxi driver.

No matter though, the new Labour/SNP Council in Edinburgh is on the case. They have suspended the cameras pending a review, which has so far recommended two cameras be removed. There were claims that a much wider review would take place to find out just how disruptive bus lanes are to traffic flows, however I doubt that many people will have any faith in any results.

There are far too many buses on the streets of Edinburgh. This is because Lothian Buses are owned by the council and have a virtual monopoly; it’s not unusual to see a line of more than ten buses. Buses stop at bus stops, which are also in the bus lanes, and other buses come along and pull out into the lane for other traffic. The buses also have transponders in them, which cause traffic lights to change as they approach.

It’s also not unusual at all for the bus lanes to lie completely empty whilst the other lane for traffic is chock-a-block.  Some bus lanes are in place all day and some are part-time only. The biggest problem is that when you approach a junction where a bus lane is the inside lane and you want to turn left there is only a small length of road which you can use. This increases the congestion whilst at some places the bus lane take up so much room it’s virtually impossible to get around the corner without driving into them.

So why are these lanes allowed? David Begg was the initial instigator and of course it’s all based on “deterring” motorists from using their cars because of congestion, pollution or greenie guff. Traffic is always tedious but the problems we face on Edinburgh are imposed by the Council. They also charge huge amounts of money for parking and place it ruthlessly. They keep the money from the fines as they will shortly be able to do for bus lane camera based fines also.

Councils are supposed to be there to support the local population. We like that they take our rubbish away, tend parks and playing fields and … well I can’t think of anything else really. Grit the roads in winter? Not so good. Look after schools? Nope they can’t stop tinkering. Planning? Only a very small and light touch needed there.

Don’t get me wrong, I use the bus from time to time. It always astonishes me that the vast majority of people who get on actually pay. The bus works okay but I can’t see why buses have to have a priority. Zil lanes for buses?

Fast mass passenger transit systems are needed in all cities. London works really well and when you see the numbers of people going to and coming back from work you can see the need. But Edinburgh? Glasgow? Aberdeen? Okay Aberdeen is a special case, the greenies and their mates are against the by-pass which would significantly reduce the traffic in the town centre.

Edinburgh chose trams. They could have made more of the rail network. Add stations on the west line to Glasgow/Fife/Livingston would have worked well. A station at Murrayfield surely an easy option? One at the airport since the line goes right past the runway. Another one or two out to the Gyle, a few going out east in Leith, the Fort etc.

Buses should not have special lanes. Simple.

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