Warrington Council has netted almost £33,000 in two months following fines handed out to motorists illegally driving in bus lanes on Wilderspool Causeway.
Automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR) are now operating on Wilderspool Causeway, Knutsford Road, lower Bridge Street, Winwick Road, the bus gate between Birchwood Way and Ordnance Avenue and Legh Street.
The measures on Wilderspool Causeway, one of the town’s busiest roads, came into force on June 3.
They are in operation each day between 7.30am and 9.30am, as well as 4.30pm until 6.30pm.
Owners of vehicles who use the bus lanes unlawfully face a penalty charge notice of £60, or £30 if paid within 14 days.
Any ticket served and not paid within 28 days will be subject to an additional 50 per cent charge, although there is also an appeals process.
A total of 1,629 penalty charge notices have been issued since enforcement commenced on Wilderspool Causeway.
Of these, 1,055 have been paid at £30 and 19 at £60 so far – which brings the total to £32,790.
The Labour-run council confirmed motorists have 28 days to pay and that this time period may not have ended on some fines.
Cllr Bob Barr (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall), leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, has commented on the matter.
He said: “I, and my group, were surprised when Cllr Russ Bowden, in his previous cabinet finance role, told the council, during the budget debate, that bus lane enforcement cameras were going to be a money spinner.
“We didn’t think that motorists in Warrington would be foolish enough to get caught in sufficient numbers to cover its costs. We were wrong.
“We can’t condone bus lane offences.
“However, if ANPR can be used for this enforcement, why isn’t it being used to enforce lorry weight limits such as those around Lymm?”
Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) has also issued a statement.
He said: “Designated bus lanes allow our buses to move freely and keep public transport as a viable and credible option.
“The bus lane enforcement cameras help to tackle congestion and keep bus traffic flowing.
“In the longer term, car drivers will change their behaviour and the revenue will decrease.
“I’m not sure that it is wise of the opposition to call Warrington residents foolish, but at least they now recognise that we were right to take this action with bus lane enforcement.”
Town Hall chiefs have confirmed there are plans to roll out enforcement on the remaining bus lanes across the borough, where cameras are not currently in place.
These proposals are being finalised, with a further announcement to be made in ‘due course’.
A council spokesman added: “It is important to note that, even on bus lanes where there are currently no cameras in operation, the police have powers to take action against vehicles using the lanes when they are not permitted to do so.”