Bus lane a bugbear for residents

Graham Hopkins is surprised he will now be fined for using the Hairini Street bus lane after using it for two years. Photo: John Borren.

A Hairini resident would like to see the Hairini Street bus lane be dual use for residents outside of peak hours.

The bus lane at the end of Hairini Street has been in place for about two years but is illegally used by other vehicles to access Turret Road.

Graham Hopkins was surprised to learn that anyone using the bus lane will be fined $150 from the end of September.

“Why can't we share it after 9.30 in the morning? Because it's dead and there's always a break in the traffic coming down the hill when the lights at the top go red, there’s always a gap.

“It just seems so ironic to me that we can't share it at off-peak times.

Graham has lived in Hairini for six years and says use should be just for residents and not during morning peak hour traffic.

“You can't use it because it's too clogged coming down the hill. But after that it's safe and safe as anything.”

To access Turret Road residents need to go to the Hairini Street, State Highway 29A roundabout then the Maungatapu roundabout.

“It's just an inconvenience of having to go well over 1km up to the two roundabouts and then down the hill.”

He says before the bus lane went it in was about 100m from the end of his street to Turret Road.

“You would travel 100 meters and you're where you want to be, rather than going over a kilometre to get where you want to be.”

Tauranga City Council director of transport Brendan Bisley says it has always been illegal for private vehicles to use the bus lane and council doesn’t intend to allow residents to use it because safety audits have recommended against it.

He says there has been an increasing number of drivers illegally driving down the bus lane which is why council plans to start issuing tickets.

“We’ve observed more than 200 vehicles per day on some days which has been increasing over time.

“Illegal use of the bus lane adds to congestion on Turret Road and creates safety issues for people who use the off-road cycleway that crosses the bus lane.”

Brendan says council is sending warning letters to offenders for the first few weeks of September and will then move to issuing $150 fines if use of the lane continues.

Council has cameras in place that operate 24/7 to monitor use of the bus lane and vehicles are automatically recorded as they drive down it with tickets issued from that footage, he says.

The lane is used by 53 buses every week day, including 12 school buses.

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