Thousands of drivers have been hit by £60 bus lane fines after a council moved cameras to catch motorists.
The camera, in Fowler Street in South Shields, caught 1,942 drivers between April and June this year, after the camera was moved.
Furious motorists have accused the council of not giving them any pre-warning and complained the bus lane was poorly signposted.
The camera, in Fowler Street in South Shields, caught 1,942 drivers between April and June this year
Mark Purves, 38, a father-of-two, is one of the motorists’ who was snapped in the bus lane between April and June.
He said he was stunned when he was hit with a £60 fine following the motoring offence on May 22.
He said: ‘I didn’t even really realise at the time I had actually done it.
‘I came out one of the side streets (Albemarle Street), and the camera sign is where the camera actually is – there’s no pre-warning.
‘It is not very well signposted, it does not give drivers a second chance.
‘That section is only like 20 yards, it’s tiny. It does not make any sense and it’s bizarre why the camera is there.’
Rather than appeal and risk paying the full £60 fine, Mr Purves elected to pay £30.
South Tyneside Council issued 1,942 fines between April and June this year for motorists who drove in the bus lane on Fowler Street, in South Shields
However he then decided to research how many other drivers had been caught by the camera.
Submitting his own Freedom of Information request he learned 1,942 fines had been dished out between April 1 and June 12. Only 484 fines had been handed to drivers in the same place the year before.
He accused South Tyneside Council of running a ‘cash cow’ scheme and complained the signage was inadequate.
He added: ‘I’ve got no doubt that this bus lane has been put in to make money. You don’t stand on that street and see streams of buses going by, it’s not like Newcastle city centre.
‘How can you say this number of people have done this deliberately to save 30 seconds on their journeys. There is no real benefit.
‘It’s basically extortion. I don’t want to risk driving there again, and I think they will catch a lot more people.’
Furious motorists have accused the council of not giving them any pre-warning and complained that the bus lane was poorly signposted
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson attributed the rise in motorists getting caught to a change in location for the cameras.
A council spokesperson said: ‘The bus lane on Fowler Street is clearly signed and complies with the requisite Department for Transport regulations, as do all the other bus lanes in the borough.
‘Video cameras automatically record incidents of people illegally driving in a bus lane and their vehicle registration plate.
‘Vehicle owners have the right to appeal if they feel the ticket has been wrongly issued. Details on how to do so can be found on the reverse of the Penalty Charge Notice.
‘Ideally, we would not have to issue any fines, however using a bus lane is illegal and unsafe and we would encourage motorists to observe the restrictions to avoid receiving a penalty.’
Last week Essex County Council was slammed after nearly 5,000 motorists were fined for using a bus lane in the space of just 25 days.
The council introduced its ‘bus gate’ in Chelmsford city centre in 2011, with cars banned from using it to help ease congestion.
But officials at the authority only finally installed and switched on traffic enforcement cameras last month.
After the cameras went live 4,843 unsuspecting motorists were collared and hit with a £60 fine in less than a month, meaning the council could pocket nearly £300,000.
Motorists have branded Essex County Council ‘sneaky’ over this ‘bus gate’, pictured, in Chelmsford which cars are banned from using
Although warning signs in Essex, pictured, are in place, they have been ignored for years as traffic enforcement cameras were not installed
The cameras, pictured, were turned on last month and almost 5,000 drivers were caught using the gate, with fines totalling almost £300,000 issued