by David Spereall, local democracy reporter
The installation of 25 new bus lane cameras in Leeds is aimed at “maximising funds”, the city council has admitted.
Most of the cameras will be placed at various points across the city centre – and the A647 – to snap drivers who encroach on bus lanes or use any of Leeds’ new car-free bus gates.
The local authority said the cash generated from the £70 fines would be reinvested into the local transport network.
City Square, The Headrow and The Corn Exchange are among the areas where new cameras will be put up.
Drivers also face fines if they use the bus gate on York Street, while four will be put up along the A61, which runs down Leeds’ northern spine into the city centre.
A further two will be installed along the A647, which runs out to the west of the city from Armley Gyratory.
A council document revealing the plans said: “The anticipated benefits of using efficient enforcement cameras will maximise the available funding to create improvements to the Leeds transport network.”
It added: “Success will be measured by the effective enforcement of bus lane restrictions at the relevant locations.”
Bus gates, where cars are banned, have been phased in across the city centre over the last couple of years in a move the council says is geared towards cutting pollution and helping public transport.
But their introduction has proved controversial, with local taxi drivers among those complaining they’ve had the opposite effect.
In March, it was revealed that nearly 2,000 drivers had been slapped with fines for breaching the bus gates on Vicar Lane and City Square, following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the council.
The council document revealed the 25 cameras had originally been purchased to enforce Leeds’ clean air zone, which would have seen drivers of some vehicles charged to enter the city centre.
The clean air zone plan was dropped in 2020, however, and so the cameras are now being repurposed at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £200,000.