Bus lane rakes in $1m from er­rant driv­ers

The Southland Times - - NEWS - ADAM JA­COB­SON

A 150-me­tre bus lane in Auck­land has racked up more than $1 mil­lion in fines in a year.

From Novem­ber 2016 to 2017, 8462 in­fringe­ment no­tices were is­sued to driv­ers for breach­ing the King­don St to Broadway tran­sit lane in New­mar­ket.

Fig­ures re­leased to Stuff un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion and Meet­ings Act showed the no­tices to­talled to about $1.27 mil­lion in fines.

Re­muera res­i­dent Jay Williams said many in­fringe­ments is­sued by Auck­land Trans­port amounted to noth­ing more than ‘‘rev­enue gath­er­ing’’.

In Au­gust, Williams was stung with a $150 fine af­ter en­ter­ing the bus lane 28m ear­lier than the 50m al­lowed by law. The sig­nage mark­ing the bus lanes was ‘‘con­fus­ing’’ and with other cars ahead it was dif­fi­cult to see where the 50m en­try point started, he said.

Williams, who be­lieved the fine was ‘‘un­just’’, tried to dis­pute the in­fringe­ment but his ap­peal was de­nied by Auck­land Trans­port.

‘‘AT should be putting this money into re­solv­ing the prob­lem rather than just get­ting this shock- ing amount of money from peo­ple.’’

An­other com­mon spot where mo­torists were pinged was the Pah Rd tran­sit lane in Royal Oak, which net­ted Auck­land Coun­cil an av­er­age $3000 a day in in­fringe­ment no­tices.

In the six months from Oc­to­ber, 3718 tick­ets were handed out to mo­torists try­ing to beat queues, to­talling $557,700 in fines.

Auck­land Trans­port spokesman James Ire­land said there was an ‘‘on­go­ing bat­tle’’ to keep Auck­land mo­torists out of bus and tran­sit lanes. ‘‘This is not about rais­ing money, this is about com­pli­ance, and keep­ing the city mov­ing.’’

Tran­sit lanes, which be­come ac­tive at cer­tain times of the day, are re­stricted to pas­sen­ger ser­vice ve­hi­cles, mo­tor­cy­cles and ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing the spec­i­fied min­i­mum num­ber of pas­sen­gers.

Mo­torists could only en­ter a bus lane or tran­sit lane 50m be­fore mak­ing a left-hand turn.

‘‘Buses are the back­bone of Auck­land’s pub­lic trans­port sys­tem and it’s es­sen­tial that they can move as freely as pos­si­ble,’’ Ire­land said.

Reg­u­lar en­force­ment was in place across the lanes to keep them run­ning as smoothly as pos­si­ble, he said.

Te reo sign pos­si­ble

Plans for a bilin­gual wel­come to Ro­torua road sign may pro­ceed af­ter the NZ Trans­port Agency said it was will­ing to work with the Ro­torua Lakes Coun­cil on the is­sue. Plans for the sig­nage, part of a push to es­tab­lish Ro­torua as New Zealand’s first of­fi­cial bilin­gual city, had hit a road­block af­ter the agency cited rules that re­quired signs to be in English. How­ever, Ro­torua mayor Steve Chad­wick said talks with agency chair Dame Fran Wilde had been pos­i­tive. ‘‘Coun­cil has a con­struc­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with NZTA and we will keep work­ing on this, we’ll get there. This will set the prece­dent for other places so it needs to be done prop­erly and we need to get it right.’’ Agency di­rec­tor of safety and en­vi­ron­ment, Harry Wil­son, said the agency was open to ex­plor­ing op­tions for te reo sig­nage.

Trainee pi­lots hurt

Two in­ter­na­tional trainee pi­lots have been hos­pi­talised af­ter a late night smash that saw one of them thrown from a car on a ru­ral Waikato road. Fam­ily mem­bers of the two In­dian men are fly­ing to New Zealand to sup­port the pair who are in a se­ri­ous, but sta­ble, con­di­tion in Waikato Hos­pi­tal. The pair were two of three trainee pi­lots in the ve­hi­cle that crashed and rolled mul­ti­ple times on a ru­ral road near Mata­mata on Mon­day night. All of the men lived to­gether while train­ing at NZ Avi­a­tion flight school at Wa­haroa. A 19-yearold man in the back pas­sen­ger seat was thrown from the car, po­lice said.

Ben­e­fit back­pay

Pro­cess­ing is­sues have meant about 1000 Ki­wis have been miss­ing out on their full en­ti­tle­ments un­der new ac­com­mo­da­tion sup­ple­ment rates. How­ever, the er­ror is ex­pected to be rec­ti­fied by the end of the week and those af­fected will be re­paid. Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment client ser­vice sup­port group gen­eral man­ager Dwina Dick­in­son said the min­istry, through Work and In­come, pro­vided the sup­ple­ment to about 290,000 clients. Of these, about 135,000 saw an au­to­matic in­crease when changes to the weekly pay­ment took ef­fect from April 1. ‘‘We’re dou­ble-check­ing about 1000 records that didn’t process as ex­pected.’’

New Stage Chal­lenge

The team be­hind the an­nual Smoke­free Rock­quest high school events will now be run­ning the re­place­ment for Stage Chal­lenge. In Fe­bru­ary, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Chris Hip­kins promised that the Gov­ern­ment would step in to find a re­place­ment for the pop­u­lar school cul­tural event, af­ter it was canned be­cause of a lack of fund­ing. More than 500,000 stu­dents had par­tic­i­pated in the shows in the past 25 years. Yes­ter­day, Hip­kins – a for­mer Stage Chal­lenge par­tic­i­pant him­self – said a new school arts events would re­place Stage Chal­lenge later this year. Rock­Quest Pro­mo­tions Ltd (Rock­quest) would run the event in 2018, funded by a one-off grant of $800,000 from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

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