More than 125,000 fines for driving in bus lanes have been issued to motorists in Sheffield over the last three years, new figures reveal.
That would have generated over £7.5 million for Sheffield Council were all those penalty charge notices (PCNs) paid in full at £60, rather than at the half-price rate for quick payment.
The RAC obtained a breakdown of fines issued during the calendar years 2015, 2016 and 2017 in Sheffield and other major cities across the UK, using the Freedom of Information Act.
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The total of 125,343 fines issued in Sheffield over that period was lower than in many other local authorities, including Manchester (352,688), Nottingham (194,993) and Leeds (145,394).
But it was higher than in Birmingham (82,891), Edinburgh (78,332) and Leicester (59,158).
The number of fines issued in Sheffield rose from 43,432 in 2015 to 49,031 the following year, before falling sharply to 32,880 last year.
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There are 13 enforcement cameras spread across Sheffield's 11 miles of bus lanes, the RAC's figures showed, with an average of just over 2,500 PCNs issued per camera last year.
The motoring organisation found that across the UK's 20 largest cities, more than 3.4 million fines for driving in bus lanes were issued between 2015 and 2017.
Outside London, the number of fines rose by a fifth between 2015 and 2016 before falling by nine per cent last year.
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The RAC said the statistics suggested councils could do more to improve signs to prevent drivers accidentally entering bus lanes.
It called for the number of signs 'cluttering' roads to be reduced, and recommended the introduction 'smart bus lanes' with changing signs showing which lanes are open and closed.
Its spokesman Simon Williams said: "Bus lanes have a vital role to play in ensuring the reliability of public transport as they help to keep our urban areas moving.
"But the sheer quantity of fines – more than a million every year – suggests something is awry and we don’t believe the vast majority are knowingly breaking the rules.
"While there is clearly no defence for deliberately driving in a bus lane, we believe more can be done to make it obvious to drivers when they can and can’t drive in one."
Steve Wilkinson, who owns Spa 1877 in the city centre, successfully appealed against a fine issued for entering a bus lane on Glossop Road last summer - but only after taking his case to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
He believes the restrictions should be more clearly signposted and drivers passing through the Regent Street gate before immediately turning left onto Cavendish Street after realising their error, as he did, should not be penalised.
"It is really annoying that Sheffield Council has dug its heels in at every opportunity and is knowingly penalising residents and visitors by adding to congestion elsewhere on the network with a diversion taking us past a heavily pedestrianised precinct area," he said.
The Star has contacted Sheffield Council for a comment on the bus lane fine figures.
HOW DOES SHEFFIELD COMPARE TO OTHER CITIES?
Total PCNs issued between 2015 and 2017
Brighton & Hove: 34,541