Medway Council today (Wednesday, 1 February 2012) issues a warning to motorists not to drive through Chatham’s new bus station, or get fined.
The council is putting in place Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to stop drivers who put members of the public at risk.
Since the new bus station opened late last year, it has been illegal for vehicles to drive through it, unless they are buses or local taxis, which is well known and signed.
This is because this can cause a serious danger to pedestrians – including children and disabled users - and all other bus users. It can also delay buses – making passengers late.
For the first four weeks (between 10 October and 7 November 2011) after the bus station opened, Medway Council worked with the police to warn people rather than fine them in order to give motorists fair time to get used to the new layout. A total of 486 warning notices were given out instead of fines during this time.
Between 7 November, 2011 and 9 January this year, 962 motorists have paid fines after being issued with Penalty Charge Notices within the bus and taxi only zone in the bus station.
The bus station is used by around 60,000 pedestrians each week and numerous road crossings are in place so that they have places to cross.
Buses, local taxis and bicycles are allowed to go through the bus station, but other motorists are not.
A CCTV car has frequently been in place to enforce this rule and clamp down on motorists who put bus users and other pedestrians at risk. It has always been prominently parked to give drivers due warning so they can stop, in addition to the numerous signs that are permanently in place.
Now permanent ANPR cameras are being put in place to stop those that continue to flout driving regulations.
Robin Cooper, Director of Regeneration, Community and Culture, said: “We want to send out a strong message to the small number of motorists who flout driving regulations by driving through the bus station, putting people at risk.
“I would imagine there is no bus station in the country where people are allowed to drive through as if it is an open road and most car drivers fully understand the reasons for this.
“Since the bus station opened, we widely publicised that people must not drive through the bus station or they will receive a fine and I think it is fair to point out that the vast majority of motorists act sensibly and care about the safety of others.
“We also set up an amnesty for the first four weeks so that those that did mistakenly drive through the bus station received a warning letter asking them not to do so rather than receive a fine.
“But the bus station has been in place for nearly four months now and it is important that those who feel that they can flout regulations and put others at risk realise that they will be fined if they attempt to drive through the bus station.”