Belfast bus lanes: Proposals to use cameras to detect illegal driving
Authorities in charge of Northern Ireland's roads are considering using cameras to detect vehicles driving illegally in bus lanes.
It is illegal for private motorists to use bus lanes and police are responsible for enforcing the law.
The Department of Regional Development (DRD) is considering taking on this responsibility.
New proposals for enforcement include using fixed and mobile cameras to catch drivers.
The department, who already have responsibility for enforcing parking laws, is also considering making it a civil offence for private motorists to drive in bus lanes. They could be punished with a £60 fine instead of the current £30 fine imposed by police.
A similar system has been in operation in Scotland since 2012 and has detected more than 400 drivers a day.
Two years ago, police formally asked the DRD to consider taking over responsibility for monitoring bus lanes.
A recent survey by the department found a significant number of vehicles were using bus lanes illegally.'Frustration'
Gordon Clarke, from Sustrans NI, said it was a welcome development.
"I think one of the key parts of this is that most people do comply with the legislation and do stay in lanes and don't go into bus lanes," he said.
"I think their frustration is that people are doing it and getting away with it, or appearing to get away with it.
"So I think these new measures will certainly rectify that, which is probably the biggest problem, and, at the same time, bring the benefit to more efficient bus services."
It is understood bus lane cameras could be in place before the introduction of a rapid transit system in 2017.
In the last three years, the 'Belfast on the Move' scheme has seen 2.6km of bus lanes constructed in the city.
While initially controversial due to congestion, recent research indicated there were 11,000 fewer cars in Belfast city centre due to the new traffic system.