A controversial 'car free zone' in Edinburgh has raked in nearly £100,000 of fines over just two months. The bus gate in the Manse Road area of city, which operates at peak times in the morning and in the afternoon on weekdays, was installed in the hopes of curbing heavy congestion in the area but has caused controversy with locals.
Introduced in May as part of the councils Corstorphine Connections project, while active general traffic is prohibited from turning into St John's Road. According to Edinburgh Live, only public transport can access the zone during these times.
Figures released by Edinburgh Council through the Freedom of Information Act, have revealed that in the first full month it was active, 2298 fines have been dished out - equalling a sum of £50,730. In July, the bus gate was targeted with it being put out of action for days after being 'sliced in half' by one vandal in an act which the council publicly condemned.
On the Edinburgh Council website, it states: "As part of the Corstorphine Connections project, a new part-time bus gate will operate in Manse Road at its junction with St John's Road. This will be in operation between Monday to Fridays, 8am to 10am and 2.45pm to 6.30pm. During these times, general traffic is not allowed to travel through this part of Manse Road onto St John's Road.
"You will receive a £60 charge if you drive in a bus lane or through a bus gate when you are not allowed. This will be reduced to £30 if you pay your bus lane charge within 14 days of receiving your charge notice."
In response to the figures, both the Low Traffic Corstorphine group, who are in support of the measures, and Stop the Corstorphine LTN, who are against, have voiced their opinion.
Those who support say the figures cannot be regarded as a conclusive reflection of behaviour so early in the trial. They also claim the trial nature of the project was a welcomed sight and they hope the number of fines being issued as a result of drivers entering the prohibited zone reduce significantly in months to come.
A spokesperson for Low Traffic Corstorphine said: "Low Traffic Corstorphine, a local volunteer group of residents and business people keen to see quieter and safer residential streets, continues to support the aims of the Corstorphine Connections project.
"The traffic flow data recently published provided an interesting insight but cannot be regarded as a conclusive reflection of behaviour change so early in the trial. Studies across the UK continue to show wide support for Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) projects when they are given sufficient time to become established.
"Manse Road was not built to carry the high volume of vehicles which were evidenced by the data counts prior to the project being implemented. Averaging over 3000 vehicles on a weekday, the community has been asking the Council and local representatives to help address the problems associated with unending growth in traffic volumes for decades.
"The trial nature of this project is welcomed and, once the data has been analysed after the first six months, it will give an indication of what, if anything needs to be modified. The volume of fines issued for those breaching the bus gate helps to illustrate how busy the road is and we hope that these fines will reduce significantly as drivers adjust and adhere to the restrictions.
"There have been extensive public and stakeholder engagements spanning at least two years and calls from members of the community to make interventions that make the area safer and enable healthier and more environmentally sustainable choices for getting around for many years.
"We feel it is also important to reiterate that consultation is not a referendum and instead helps to inform a plan. We would be interested to hear what LibDem Councillors would do to reduce congestion, improve public safety and health if they no longer support this project."
Meanwhile, Stop the Corstorphine LTN have claimed they were "forced" to abide by the methods used to ease congestion. They say locals are struggling to attend medical appointments and make it to work on time as a result of the diversions put in place in recent months and are calling on the council to listen to their opinion.
David Lowe, a spokesperson for Stop the Corstorphine LTN said: "Around 4600 penalty notices were issued in two months since the Manse Road Bus Gate went live with fines totalling over £99,000. This corresponds to one penalty notice every three minutes during the times the Bus Gate is active.
"The high volume of notices is a clear indication that the signage on Manse road is very confusing for drivers. Traffic signage should be clear, unambiguous and timely. The signage on Manse Road and its approaches is unclear, ambiguous and untimely.
"The undemocratic and unwanted LTN scheme has been forced upon the Corstorphine community. We continue to hear from people who are struggling to get to work and medical appointments. We hope the Council will respect the views of residents and halt the scheme."
Transport and Environment Convener Scott Arthur said that the bus gate has was introduced to make the area much safer and more accessible for those walking, wheeling and cycling.
He says he hopes it 'generate zero fines' as the council continue to hear from those living in the area as "it is clear" that some want to see changes. Addressing the issue of signage, he says the council are working to identify alternative methods to make the zone more visible.
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