Council rakes in £1m of fines from single east London bus lane

A bus lane near Whipps Cross Hospital earned Waltham Forest Council more than £1 million in fines in the last twelve months.

In the year before August 1, 26,309 fines were issued to drivers who strayed into the 24-hour bus lane on Whipps Cross Road, totalling more than £1.3m in fines.

This means just over a tenth of the council’s total income from fining drivers in that period, which was more than £12.5m, came from this one bus lane.

The sum was revealed through a Freedom of Information request, submitted by Redbridge resident Helen Watson, who says she and her son received three fines from the bus lane in one week – and has accused the council of using it as a “warped income generation scheme”. 

She argues the way the Green Man Interchange is set up makes it easy to accidentally stray into the bus lane, which ends just before the junction.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, she said: “I’m not one of those people that complains about parking, I hardly drive, but I think this is just an outrage.

“Isn’t there something really wrong with the traffic management on this road that £1.3m of fines have been issued to residents for making a mistake in their driving?

“If this level of error is being made, the council needs to look at its signage, its road layout and whether the position of the bus lane gives motorists space to safely approach the junction.

“I would like the council to…find out why so many residents are being penalised and issue an apology to all the local people it has blatantly fleeced for the last twelve months.”

In 2014, the East London Guardian reported that the council had installed a new CCTV camera at the junction, leading to an increase in fines.

However, deputy council leader Clyde Loakes told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the road is “one of the busiest highways” in the borough and that the “vast majority” of drivers are able to avoid the bus lane.

He said: “A recent vehicle count estimated that some six million vehicles use this road in both directions every year.

“The vast majority – more than 99 per cent – do so without straying into the bus lane and so do not attract fines.

“The enforcement of bus lanes is a vital part of keeping the traffic flowing. It is particularly important around hospitals especially for older people and those with restricted mobility who may have no option but to attend appointments using public transport.”

Cllr Loakes added: “Between 2017 and spring of 2019, a major reconstruction converted the junction from a roundabout to a junction controlled by traffic lights. The work included dedicating cycle lanes from every direction and was part of a £15m improvement plan for Lea Bridge Road.

“All signs and lines used in this, as with other roads in Waltham Forest, strictly follow Department for Transport standards, and are therefore fully compliant with legislation.”

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