24-hour bus lanes to go ahead in Auckland
Round-the-clock bus lanes are set to be installed in the Auckland city business district starting this week.
And the Automobile Association is calling on authorities to make sure motorists know all about the changes in order to avoid being copped with a $150 fine.
The Auckland Transport has announced it will be adding just over 1.2km of new 24/7 bus lanes in the city centre.
The move aims to help minimise disruptions to the city's bus timetables during mass construction work in the region over the next few months.
The AA's principal adviser in infrastructure, Barney Irvine, said they supported the new move, but said it was vital all motorists were aware of it.
"The issue is that these are big changes and a lot of people are simply not going to be aware of them. So Auckland Transport is doing absolutely the right thing in issuing warnings in the first month [instead of fines]...but what we'd like to see before that is a bigger focus on building public awareness.''
Currently, under the law, motorists can enter a bus lane no earlier than 50m before turning into the next street. Auckland Transport, however, enforces this at 80m.
But judging that distance can be difficult and many drivers who thought they were in the right have been fined the $150 fee.
Mr Irvine said that was one thing the AA was calling on Auckland Transport to change the way it judges when a vehicle can enter a bus lane.
"We want to see Auckland Transport to make it easy as possible for motorists to comply and to do the right thing. But the thing is, whether it's 50m or 80m, it's still really difficult to judge. How do you really know? There's a lot of guess work involved. So our preference would be to remove a lot of the guess work [by making] the limit a block instead,'' he said.
"So if you were driving in a bus lane, you come to an intersection, you go through an intersection and continue to drive in a bus lane - then you get pinged. But if you don't, then you don't. And that just removes a lot of the grey area.''
Mr Irvine said the fact that entering a bus lane too early would see you being fined $150 - as opposed to a driver using a cell phone getting fined $80 - was somewhat difficult to understand.
"It almost seems that they've got those signs round the wrong way. We have a fine that high, it sort of gets the public talking about revenue generation - and it's not the idea.''