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On the buses

Published: 4:58PM Wednesday July 07, 2010 Source: Fair Go

Reporter:  Ruwani Perera

Getting caught driving in a bus lane can be an expensive encounter - it can cost you a $150 fine.  Rain or shine - they're out in all weather - perched on the side of the road - on the bus lane blitz.
The rule is you can't turn left on a bus lane unless you're within 50 metres of that turn - to break the rule's going to cost you $150.  That's the same fine as running a red light.
Under new road rules which came out on November 1st, 50 metres was made the minimum length from where you could drive on a special vehicle lane like one for buses when you're making a left turn. The rules came out the same time driving while talking on a cellphone was banned.

Auckland City Council's Transport Chairman, Councillor Ken Baguley agrees the bus lane system needs improving, even though bus lane infringements are a money spinner for them.
Auckland City Council pocketed $4.2 million dollars in bus lane fines in 2009/10 - and since bus lanes were introduced 7 years ago has amassed almost $13 million.

We want to see some kind of marker or sign for drivers to know when it's safe to drive in the bus lane. Until this is done we want to see councils around the country, who haven't provided markers, to introduce an immediate moratorium on bus lane fines.

If you've been ticketed and want to appeal/protest your fine here are two sample letters (one for Auckland City, and one for other councils) which you can copy and paste into your own letter. Please note, if you're in Auckland send two copies - one to the infringement review officer and one to Councillor Baguley.

Auckland City version:
Date:
Parking Department
Infringement Review Adviser
Auckland City Council
Private Bag 92516
Wellesley Street
Auckland 1141
Cc Councillor Ken Baguley 

To whom it may concern 
I refer to the council's letter reference ----______ dated --------_______. I am the driver of the vehicle _______ on the date of the alleged offence. I am writing to appeal against receiving a fine due to the difficulty in judging 50 metres without a visual aid.
As reported on Fair Go, Auckland City Council's own chairman of its transport committee, Councillor Ken Baguley, admits that the bus lane system needs improving.
"People are absolutely frightened by even going into a bus lane so you end up [with].. a lot of congestion in the outside lane, and people don't want to take the risk of going into it."
Mr Baguley told Fair Go the council's considering signage or road marking to indicate to motorists when it's safe to enter the bus lane to make a turn.
"It's been looked at, there's a debate going on; whether it's the colour of the paint, the style of the sign, I've got no idea and we'll certainly push on. We'll try and get something sorted out during this term of the council, but these things don't move quickly."
In light of this, I think it's fair that the council continues ticketing bus lane infringements for driver education purposes, but imposes an immediate moratorium on bus lane fines until it has introduced adequate signage.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards,

Other council version:
Date:

Dear ______
I refer to the council's letter reference ----______ dated --------_______. I am the driver of the vehicle _______ on the date of the alleged offence. I am writing to appeal against receiving a fine due to the difficulty in judging 50 metres without a visual aid.
As reported on Fair Go, Auckland City Council has recognised that the bus lane systems need improving.
"People are absolutely frightened by even going into a bus lane so you end up [with].. a lot of congestion in the outside lane, and people don't want to take the risk of going into it." - Ken Baguley, ACC Transport Committee Chairman.
Mr Baguley told Fair Go that its council is considering signage or road marking to indicate to motorists when it's safe to enter the bus lane to make a turn.
In light of this, I think it's fair that ______ council continues ticketing bus lane infringements for driver education purposes, but imposes an immediate moratorium on bus lane fines until it has introduced adequate signage.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards,

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