Council rakes in £442,000 in fines from 39ft bus lane

Council rakes in £442,000 in fines from 39ft bus lane
Nearly 8,000 motorists have been fined in less than two years for driving into a 39ft bus lane in London, data shows.

Harrow Council pocketed a total of £442,363 between April 2019 and the end of 2021.

The bus lane – not much longer than the length of a double-decker – is situated on a section of Northolt Road in South Harrow. Data has revealed that 7,854 drivers were caught using the north-west London route illegally.

bus lane harrow

View of the bus lane from Google Maps


The scale of the number of fines issued came to light after motorist Geoffrey Ben-Nathan, 77, submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Harrow Council.

He successfully overturned the fine he received after accidentally driving into the bus lane. The local authority said it was against the law for motorists to use the lane, but the way the road is laid out and signposted has led some people, including Mr Ben-Nathan, to believe they have been treated unfairly.

The retired businessman argued his case at a tribunal, telling adjudicators that the signage on the approach to the lane is ‘unclear’ and will lead to many other people getting fined

The tribunal heard that most restrictions along Northolt Road only apply at certain times of the day. But this becomes a 24/7 restriction for the small section of the route at the junction with Alexandra Avenue.

Mr Ben-Nathan, of Northwick Park, said the FOI figures show that most drivers who are caught will “simply pay up”.

As part of his evidence, he gave several examples of other motorists who had successfully overturned their fines by using similar arguments to his own. 

He said clearer signage should be put into place to warn drivers, but also suggested that the council is happy to keep the existing measures because, even if it loses a few cases, most people will still pay their fines. 

Mr Ben-Nathan said: “One answer is that councils be put under a statutory duty to flag up all contraventions which are so many per cent above average: be they contraventions in entering a bus lane or contraventions at any other location.

“Morally, the onus must be on councils to prevent motorists from contravening their motoring regulations. This is not the case at the moment.”

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Signage and road layout are crucially important when it comes to enforcing any bus lane, and anywhere a local authority is dishing out a high volume of penalty charge notices for a single location should sound alarm bells about the design of the scheme.”

In its response, Harrow Council said it believes that “the signage here is clear and in accordance with the law”.

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