Motorists in Glasgow face being barred from using bus lanes at all times of the day and night under plans being considered by the council.


Key stakeholders have been invited to share their views as Glasgow City Council undertakes a review of its bus lanes, with an emphasis on whether to introduce blanket operating hours to reduce confusion among motorists.

In letters sent out just before Christmas, interested parties were told: "Consideration is being given to standardising the operating times of all the bus/taxi lanes in the city. This would make the operation of the bus/taxi lanes easier for everyone to understand."

They were asked to consider the merits of three possible options under the standardisation plans, which included: converting all existing bus/taxi lanes to 7am to 7pm; making all bus/taxi lanes 24/7; or making all bus/taxi lanes peak hours only.

The questionnaire went on to ask whether they believed switching to standard timings "would benefit driver understanding" and if they could foresee "any other benefits or issues" from the move.

At present, bus lanes in Glasgow - which can also be used by taxis - have differing operating hours, leading to complaints that it was too confusing for drivers.

Motorists snapped driving in bus lanes during restricted hours face an automatic £60 fine, halved to £30 if they pay up within two weeks.

Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists and one of the people asked to respond to the consultation, said: "I think it [standardisation] does make sense. It solves a lot of problems, because if you missed the sign with the timings on it - maybe because it was obscured by a bus or by overgrown trees - now you would have no excuse to say 'I didn't realise it was operational'. If the hours are the same across the board, it will cut out confusion."

Mr Greig said the IAM favoured a 7am-7pm policy.

The consultation paper also seeks views on what peak hours should be, whether the lanes are required on Sundays and if there were any areas of the city where the lanes should be either scrapped or introduced.

However, Mr Greig added that council bosses should also consider copying the example set by Liverpool, where all but four city centre bus lanes were axed at the end of last year following a nine-month pilot which temporarily rid the city of all its bus lanes to test the effect on traffic flow. It concluded that bus lanes provided only a "marginal benefit".

"If Glasgow are taking the time to review the bus lanes they should go the whole hog and decide whether they are needed at all," said Mr Greig. "That way drivers would know that if they are there, they are there for a reason."

Glasgow was the first city in Scotland to bring in bus lane cameras when they launched at 11 different sites in April 2012, with an additional five activated in October 2013.

They have so far generated millions of pounds in fines, although council bosses stress that the cash is being reinvested into the city's infrastructure and that the number of fixed penalty notices being issued has declined as compliance among motorists improves.

Edinburgh City Council carried out its own bus lane review last year which recommended switching "all-day" bus lanes - those operating from morning to evening - to peak hours only, and allowing motorcyclists to use them too.

The city also has a small number of 24-hour lanes which were retained.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: "Driving in bus lanes has always been an offence for anyone but authorised vehicles. However, the review, which is nearing completion, is about making it clear to drivers when bus lanes can, if at all, be used by unauthorised vehicles."