After ‘bus gate’, figures show how many drive in Brighton’s long-standing bus lanes

Motorists are still driving past long-standing bus lane warning signs where restrictions have been in place for 18 years.

Cars are banned from much of Western Road in Brighton

Bus lanes in Western Road and North Street, Brighton, have existed since 2004 and generate the highest number of fines after the new lanes in Valley Gardens.

The revelations come after Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth asked for a full breakdown of fines issued to drivers in bus lanes – also known as “bus gates” – in Brighton and Hove.

Cameras covering the new road layout in Gloucester Place, York Place and St George’s Place generated more than £2 million in fines last year.

In October, drivers who missed or ignored the signs along Valley Gardens were fined at a rate of about two a minute each day.

Councillor Nemeth said that he had planned to protest if Brighton and Hove City Council issued more than 30 fines a week.

Figures showed that in 2019 some 9,228 drivers racked up fines totalling £260,297.40 in North Street at a rate of 177 a week.

In 2021 some 8,446 drivers – or 162 a week – were fined a total of £313,300.14.

In Western Road last year 8,629 drivers – or 166 a week – broke the rules, up from 8,177 in 2019 – or 157 drivers a week – who generated £225,519 in fines.

Penalties were significantly lower in 2020, with lockdowns and other coronavirus-related restrictions in force for much of the year.

But North Street and Western Road still generated more than £250,000 in fines from more than 12,000 drivers between them.

Councillor Nemeth, who speaks for the Conservatives on the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “It is right and proper that all too regular incidents of bad driving in central Brighton lead to penalisation when appropriate.

“The issue is that there is not a huge level of correlation between driving badly and receiving a fine.

“Accidentally driving into complicated bus lanes or through so-called bus gates is very easily done by conscientious drivers as many have attested.”

Councillor Robert Nemeth

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said that the lower numbers for Western Road and North Street – compared with Valley Gardens – reflect that they are “well established”.

He said: “In encouraging sustainable travel, we must ensure that our bus lanes are clear to drivers and that there is clear, understandable signage in place across the city.

“Labour has called for this in respect of the newer bus lanes in the city – and I would suggest that more than average bus lane contraventions are flagged up much earlier in order to review any signage issues.”

Green councillor Steve Davis, joint chair of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “The bus lanes in Western Road and North Street have been in place since 2004.

“The signage relating to them – and indeed all other bus lanes in the city – complies with Department for Transport guidelines.

“The bus lanes are an important part of our strategy for keeping the city moving, giving people access to good bus travel, reducing bus journey times and enabling people to access the city centre using public transport.

“I think the vast majority of residents understand why we need bus lanes and understand the issues created when drivers use them incorrectly.”

  1. Mark Horeman Reply

    Why not paint them a different colour, like when they first put cycle in then there would be no excuses and motorists can clearly see which lane they need to be in.

  2. Jon Reply

    “Councillor Nemeth said that he had planned to protest if Brighton and Hove City Council issued more than 30 fines a week.”

    He’s going to be protesting for a while

  3. Gareth Hall Reply

    Councillor Nemeth needs to take up his issues with the Department of Transport. How many more times does he have to be told that they comply with their requirements?

  4. David Haskell Reply

    This feels familiar… ah yes!

    Boris Johnson repeatedly broke the law by holding lockdown parties at No 10.

    Following the Prime Minister’s leadership, Robert Nemeth stands up for drivers who are repeatedly breaking the law by driving in these bus gates.

  5. Local Brightonian Reply

    He is a Hove councillor. None of his business what we do in Brighton. It is probably his snotty constituents thinking the rules don’t apply to them.

  6. Andrew Reply

    I’m all in favour of penalising those who deliberately abuse bus lanes but Brighton & Hove’s signage leaves a lot to be desired.

    I’ve twice found inadvertently myself in a bus lane.

    The first time I felt that although the signage was not very prominent, I should have spotted it so I paid the fine. Although quite what adverse impact the presence of my car in a bus lane was having on public transport at 1am is questionable!

    The second time I but would certainly have appealed if I’d been fined. I turned right onto the A270 straight into a bus lane with no advance signage before the turn to indicate the left lane is a bus lane and the right lane is for other traffic. Fortunately I wasn’t spotted by a camera.

    I do wonder whether Brighton & Hove has a deliberate policy of making signage as small and unclear as possible in order to boost their coffers … or whether it is just down to incompetence on their part.

  7. Keith Reply

    I look at the layout of the area at the bottom of Church Street to Grand Parade and all I see is a mess. You need 3 lanes in the southbound direction. 2 going straight ahead and the 3rd as a queue to turn up to Church Street. Many people don’t realise that lane 2 is turning so wait. More people behind them also wait and you get a bottleneck.

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