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Exclusive: Bus lane carves up rat-run Mount Pleasant

Money spinner for city as hundreds fall foul of new rules

Written by . Published on May 21st 2012.

Exclusive: Bus lane carves up rat-run Mount Pleasant

HUNDREDS of motorists have fallen foul of Liverpool's newest bus lane, netting thousands of pounds a day for the City Treasury. 

For at least half a century, since the opening of the Catholic Cathedral, a stretch of Mount Pleasant has been a useful link between Hope Street and Brownlow Hill.

'Recently it was reported more than £3m had been earned by the council from bus lane infringements'

But just a few days ago, a short stretch of it became operational as a bus lane, with cameras snapping drivers heading in both directions.

Those receiving tickets will be issued with a £60 fixed penalty ticket, cut to £30 if paid within 14 days.

Although this stretch of Mount Pleasant has never been a notable bus route, it was decided to classify it as such in order to deter vehicles to create a safer environment for pedestrians in the cathedral and university area.

I watched in amazement at the weekend as a continuous procession of drivers sailed along Mount Pleasant. In just a matter of minutes I counted my more than 50 cars ignoring the signs warning of the bus lane.

It looked to me as though drivers did not expect to come across a stretch of bus lane, just a matter of metres long, half way along the road.


“I didn't even notice the signs. I've been using this stretch of Mount Pleasant for years. It’s crazy," one irate motorist told me.

“It's just a racket to get more money out of us. It's disgusting. I didn’t even notice it was a bus lane,” said another driver on his way to visit the cathedral.

Instead of using this leg of Mount Pleasant, drivers now have to make detours on long and busy main roads.

Bus lanes have been introduced as part of the on-going CCMS strategy that has seen them controversially introduced in other parts of the city, including Lime Street, Chapel Street and St John's Lane.

The aim is part of a plan to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and use public transport which is seemingly able to sail past traffic queues in exclusive traffic lanes.

Critics say the council will not only deter some cars from coming in, but it will also deter some people from coming to Liverpool.

Since road experts at the CCMS  - dubbed by some as the City Centre Moneymaking Strategy - were let loose, some roads seem busier and more crowded than ever.

Chapel Street, towards the Pier Head, is a bus lane, yet it isn't even a major bus route.

There have been calls to allow all traffic to use it during the evenings and at weekends.

It's a similar picture for another money-spinner, St John's Lane. Because the short link between Victoria Street and Lime Street is a no-go route, drivers face a massive diversion that involves heading past the tunnel entrance, doing a right into New Islington, doing another right into Norton Street and yet another right into London Road to join Lime Street near to the Empire Theatre.

Recently it was reported more than £3m had been earned by the council from bus lane infringements.

At least Liverpool allows private hire taxis to use bus lanes which is not the case in all city centres.

A spokesman for Liverpool City Council told Liverpool Confidential: “Enforcement on the bus lane actually began on Monday 14 May. In terms of numbers of cars going through, our parking services team says that, looking at CCTV, numbers are in the region of 200 to 300 cars ignoring the signage and driving through the lane so far.

“Although signs were bagged-over until recently, road markings and other warning signs have been visible for some time to make motorists aware of changes. The number is relatively low which suggests motorists by and large are complying with regulations rather than ignoring them. There is a statutory appeal process for motorists who believe they should not have been issued with a Penalty Charge Notice.”

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29 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Spot the ballMay 22nd 2012.

I don't take my car into town any more. It's prohibitively expensive. I also don't take a bus into town as buses are rubbish and there is no convenient train service from where I live in L18. Result: I drive to the Trafford Centre and often enjoy seeing very senior city councillors in there

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 1st 2012.

Me too. I can be there in 30 minutes only 10-15 longer than going into town, I don't have to worry about how long I'm there as the parking is free.

Darth FormbyMay 22nd 2012.

I drove down this stretch of road yesterday in a funeral procession from the cathedral. I'm not going to be pleased if I get a fine!

Gerry-the-moleMay 22nd 2012.

Mount Pleasant Bus Lane these signs have been bagged up for ages and the bags were ripped and torn, it just looked to me like they had finally come off in the wind. We should all club together to get a class act going.

M. Ford HallMay 22nd 2012.

I don't understand how they can make a vital city artery a bus lane when there isn't even a bus route going along there

O. LevelMay 22nd 2012.

Won't it stop the 'shteurdents' from driving their cars into the University?

John FieldsMay 23rd 2012.

If you are on Brownlow Hill to turn left there is no indication of the new restrictions. You are then already in the road before you see the signs. If you are lucky enough to spot the signs before entering the money making trap you have to stop and make a rather dangerous 3 point turn to get back out. This will create further congestion and lead to hot under the collar drivers venting their rage. Proof me thinks that this is an intended revenue maker. Locals will become aware over time but visitors will leave with a £60 fine and less inclination to return.

AnonymousMay 24th 2012.

There should be a law that a certain and significant amount of bus trafic runs along a strech of road before it can become a buslane.

This bus lane fits perfectly with the general level of intelect applied to roads in liverpool just like residents parking on roads with no houses and and not filling in potholes outside council tax payers houses because their "unadopted". Liverpool must be the worst most cynical council in the country.

Jack HarperMay 24th 2012.

I dunno. Birkenhead has 24-hour bus lanes even though bus services only run for a few hours during the day and nearly all buses are in the depot for the night by 6pm!

Stan ButlerMay 24th 2012.

I see that this trap will catch genuine visitors attempting to enter the University of Liverpool's visitors' car park between the Sport Centre and the Mountford Hall.

For visitors coming via the M62 and unfamiliar with Liverpool's geography and insane traffic systems it will be the logical route from the motorway to the car park.

This latest swiz will make sure that conference delegates leave our city with a horrible taste in their mouths and they'll be sure to tell all of their friends about it if they are considering a visit to Liverpool.

Arthur RudgeMay 24th 2012.

It's a great scheme to more people to leave their money at home (and spend it elsewhere).

Neither do the planners take account of commuters who have to travel THROUGH Liverpool's centre to get to work. Train and bus changes add hours to journeys over a couple of days, which is why people drive, which is also much cheaper than the overpriced public transport racket.

The way to get people out of cars is with cheap, clean, direct and convenient public transport as a carrot, not yet more closed roads as a stick.

Closed roads are also a deterrent to people who might otherwise have used a bicycle to make their journey.

MikeyBMay 24th 2012.

As far as I can see, there aren't many bus services
using Mount Pleasant, so what's the point of bus lanes?

M. Ford HallMay 24th 2012.

It's a massive trick by the council to snare innocent people who will then have to cough up £60 a time, Mikey B

Jd MoranMay 25th 2012.

"I don't take my car into town any more. It's prohibitively expensive. I also don't take a bus into town as buses are rubbish and there is no convenient train service from where I live in L18. Result: I drive to the Trafford Centre..."

With free parking, the savings you make on that journey must be considerable. What with petrol being free and everything.

M. Ford HallMay 25th 2012.

Well at least at the Trafford Centre you can motor along in the knowledge that you might be £60 better off because the M62 wasn't furtively marked up by the council with bus lane markings. Although no buses go along there either so they MIGHT just get away with it

Arthur AdamsMay 25th 2012.

This sounds like a job for Uncle Joe and (if he could sort it) one that would show that Uncle Joe really does have balls!

AnonymousMay 26th 2012.

I've seen HIM in there too!

JonMay 26th 2012.

I haven't driven in Liverpool for years, and have just driven through this blatent money grabbing scheme. I didn't even notice the signs until I was waiting to turn on to brownlow hill and I saw it in my wing mirror. Fumming doesn't even come close to how I'm feeling. Does anyone know whether its a weekday bus lane, or am I now £60 out of pocket to a dispicable money grabbing council that already should owe me for the damage to one of my wheels caused by a pot hole the size of a crater that hadn't been filled in in sefton park! Outraged!!

Maurice MinerMay 28th 2012.

After a few years' absence I went to the Trafford Centre a few months ago.

I was completely unprepared to see just how far the place had lurched downmarket! It's actually worse than Liverpool One and that is a part of town I avoid.

OK, the parking is free, but there's nothing there to justify the petrol and the inconvenience. Certainly little worth buying. Whatever happened to Selfridge's? Is it on the skids?

For upmarket presents at Christmas it'll have to be city centre Manchester.

AnonymousMay 31st 2012.

Well, car drivers: You should not use your cars when you can use better alternatives. There is no need to go through this short section of Mount Pleasant, except as a 'rat run' - avoiding legitimate traffic lights and being directed on more appropriate routes into and out of town. I think it it a good scheme, and has nothing to do with 'money making', but is an example of a sensible policy to reduce car use by discouragement.

Maurice MinerMay 31st 2012.

There are no better alternatives.

If you are lucky enought to have public transport going where you are going it costs as much as half a taxi-ride, is unreliable, dirty, and time-consuming.

Normally I'd use my bike but not in Liverpool where to cycle to your destination without breaking the law involves such convolated and lengthy detours caused by infuriatingly blocked-off streets, a one-way system seemingly designed by throwing darts at a map and pedestianised areas (which get pounded to rubble by lorries but from which the law-abiding are banned) that it's easier not to bother.

Those roads that are open to cyclists have been made dangerous by being narrowed with random bits of angled pavement sticking out and speed bumps.

Albert ScousemanMay 31st 2012.

The point about conference delegates coming to Liverpool is correct. It's bad enough that they have to stump up nearly £10 to park their cars in the University car park, but to collect a £60 fine every time they legitimately enter or leave it is outrageous. These people will tell their workmates and friends and then where will the Liverpool tourist industry be?

Reader XxxJune 3rd 2012.

Comments are all very well, but what can we do to reverse this scandal?

AnonymousJune 13th 2012.

This is ridiculous. This road is the only way i can get to my university car park.. I've been driving down there for 2 years. Drove to my first exam on the 23rd May.. received 2 letters today today.. each with £30 fines. The thing is, I had another 2 exams on the following days so will probably receive another 4 fines totalling in £180! I'm a student and cannot afford to pay it. It's disgusting.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

I have driven down that road many times over the past month, unaware that it is a 'bus lane' until I received a fine today from a transgression on 6th June. I expect this to be the first of many. The road markings are not clear, as far as I am concerned. Are there any grounds to appeal?

London RoadJune 13th 2012.

It's dishonest Anonymous. That's the word for it.

AnonymousJuly 12th 2012.

In June I brought some American tourists to the Metropolitan cathedral and was flummoxed by this new barrier between us and the car park just up the road. We continued to the car park having followed the brown tourism road signs to get there. My £30 fine arrived in the post yesterday. I wasn't trying to dodge traffic, just trying to reach the cathedral. I see that the Dean of the Cathedral has persuaded the council to switch off the CCTV as of 6th July! I wonder if they'll be kind enough to cancel my fine.

Matt CJuly 16th 2012.

Any PCN's issued for entering this bus lane are unlawful as the signs marking the bus lane do not follow regulations. Challenge the fine, use something like the following: “The signs delineating this bus gate do not conform with the TSRGD 2002 (Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002). Sign 953 must be accompanied by sign 953.2 "only" as per direction 20.”

Read this page to get an understanding: http://www.ticketfighter.co.uk/bus.htm.

The council will probably reject your challenge but if you take it a step further to arbitration (they should give you instructions on how to do this) using this legislation as evidence and also explaining that the warning signs are unclear, YOU WILL WIN.

If enough people fight back against this obvious cash raising scam then they will have to refund everyone, as they've had to do before under very similar circumstances before.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

Thanks for that. I returned to Liverpool today to take photographs of these signs only to find that they have been take down! I met a man who was also taking pictures of this bizarre "tourist trap" with the intention of fighting his PCN. A chap at the Cathedral said the council had raked in £30K since this system was set up.

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