DRIVE in a bus lane any longer and you will be caught on CCTV and fined.
That’s the warning as a clampdown is launched on motorists who flout the law and add to congestion misery.
Portsmouth City Council has bought two cameras as part of a contract with traffic management firm Videalert.
It will see cameras go up on lampposts and keep an eye on bus routes around the city.
If motorists are caught cutting into a bus lane to avoid queues and take shortcuts they will get a £60 fine.
The cameras won’t be permanently fixed and will move across the bus network depending on where there are problems.
The message is, if drivers use bus lanes, they will be caught and finedCllr Ken Ellcome
Planned locations have yet to be revealed, but signs will go up pointing drivers to where they are.
There are bus lanes throughout the city, including on the often-congested M275.
Portsmouth Tory traffic boss Ken Ellcome hopes the tough approach will lead to smoother bus journeys and safer roads.
Speaking to The News, Cllr Ellcome said: ‘It’s something we have never enforced before.
‘We have got to the point where people are complaining about congestion, which we are trying to improve, but there’s no point if the bus lanes are filled with people nipping in and out of them, making life difficult for the buses.
‘It’s one of a number of things we’re doing in the city to ease congestion, and getting people out of their cars and on to buses is a big part of that.
‘We are aware there is no more space in the city.
‘The message is, if drivers use bus lanes, they will be caught and fined.’
Cllr Ellcome said the £60 fine has been approved by the Department for Transport. It is the ‘medium’ penalty rate a council can set.
Only cyclists, hackney cabs and emergency services can legally use bus lanes.
The council says the police can already prosecute people who illegally use the lanes, but are unable to monitor them all the time.
Michael Robinson, parking services manager at the city council: ‘This is the first phase of a long-term programme to deploy enforcement across the city to reduce congestion and speed up public transport.’
But Cllr Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council and Hampshire’s traffic official, said money should be spent on speed cameras as speeding is a more serious issue than bus lane enforcement.
He said: ‘I think this will be perceived by motorists as simply milking motorists again for something.
‘Personally, if I knew there was money for enforcement, then I would put it into speeding enforcement.
‘Speeding is more likely to result in death or injury, and money is very tight at the moment.’
The new cameras will go up from November 1 and will operate while buses are in operation.
Bus lane cameras have already been used in other UK cities.
Bus firms meanwhile have welcomed the move.
Dervla McKay, First Bus general manager, said: ‘Unauthorised vehicles using bus lanes have a real impact on our services, causing unnecessary delays and sometimes preventing our drivers from boarding and alighting their customers safely at bus stops.
‘We welcome the city council’s decision to use camera enforcement on the city’s bus lanes.’
Michael Watson, managing director of Stagecoach South, said: ‘Bus lanes are vital to us.
‘They allow us to get large numbers of people to their destination faster.
‘The cameras will assist us in getting our passengers where they want to go on time.’