Whether you own a car to commute, take the kids to school, or get around on your day-to-day, there are many costs involved in looking after your car. From bad credit car finance payments, maintenance costs, and fines from accidentally driving in a bus lane. With the number of bus lane cameras increasing, Moneybarn investigated major UK population areas to discover which councils are generating the most revenue from bus lane fines.
Following on from the report Moneybarn did in March 2022, it has once again issued freedom of information requests on bus lane Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to the biggest UK councils. From this, Moneybarn broke down the number of fines issued, and the total income pulled in from these fines over the 2021/22 financial year.
Councils earning the highest incomes from bus lane fines
Manchester City Council, £12.94 million generated from bus lane fines:
Just like last year, Manchester is the city that has generated the most from bus lane fines, but this has increased by around 250% since then! Manchester City Council reported almost £13 million generated from fines, nearly £10 million more than the previous year. This money was raised from 174,963 fines handed out to motorists.
City of Bristol Council, £4.96 million generated from bus lane fines:
Bristol generated the second highest amount from bus lane fines, at just under £5 million. Last year Bristol generated £2.04 million, and consequently, the income has more than doubled. The money came from a total of 176,368 PCNs being issued, which is more than anywhere else in the country.
Birmingham City Council, £4.84 million generated from bus lane fines:
Completing the top three is Birmingham City Council, which handed out 176,299 PCNs. This led to just under £5 million being generated, an increase of over £3.5 million from last year. Since our report last year, Birmingham overtook Glasgow to become the third highest generator of money from bus lane fines, with almost £100,000 generated every week.
London boroughs that made the most from bus lane fines
Lambeth Borough Council, £2.32 million generated from bus lane fines:
Across all the London Boroughs in our study, the average revenue from bus lane fines was £468,000, with just three making more than one million pounds. One of these is the Borough of Lambeth where the council generated over £2 million in revenue from 44,701 bus lane PCNs, this is an average of over £6,000 per day.
Ealing Borough Council, £2.27 generated from bus lane fines:
Ealing Borough Council generated the second highest amount from bus lane PCNs although it was far less than the two councils above them. 38,860 were given out in Ealing, which is also the second most in London.
Waltham Forest Borough Council, £1.93 million generated from bus lane fines:
The northeastern London Borough of Waltham Forest generated the third-largest revenue from bus lane PCNs in the nation’s capital city. The borough generated almost £2 million, with an average daily income of over £5,000.
Councils that issued the most bus lane fines
1. Bristol – 176,368 PCNs issued
Outside of London, Bristol is the city that issued the most fines for bus lane offences in the last year, with 176,368.
The city’s MetroBus rapid bus system commenced in 2018 and it also is served by three park-and-ride sites too.
2. Birmingham – 176,299 PCNs issued
Close behind in second place is Birmingham, which issued marginally fewer bus lane PCNs than Bristol, with 176,299.
The Second City has a high level of public transport usage, and the number 11 outer circle bus route is the longest urban bus route in Europe, at over 26 miles long with 272 stops.
3. Manchester – 174,963 PCNs issued
In third place, but again, not far behind Bristol in second, is Manchester, which issued 174,963 bus lane fines.
Manchester has one of the most extensive bus networks outside London, with over 50 bus companies operating in the Greater Manchester area that surrounds the city.
London boroughs that issued the most bus lane fines
1. Lambeth – 44,107 PCNs issued
In the capital, Lambeth is the borough with the most bus lane fines issued, at 44,107.
This borough is located in the heart of London and is a densely populated area that relies on public transport a lot.
2. Ealing – 38,860 PCNs issued
Ealing follows Lambeth in second place, having issued 38,860 bus lane PCNs in the last year.
Located in West London, Ealing has characteristics of both a leafy suburb and an inner-city area.
3. Waltham Forest – 31,194 PCNs issued
Completing the top three for London is Waltham Forest, with 31,194 bus lane fines being issued.
Waltham Forest separates north and east London and is home to Epping Forest and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Can I appeal a bus lane fine?
If you receive a bus lane fine and feel like it was issued unfairly, then you may be able to appeal it.
Here are some reasons that you may be able to challenge a bus lane fine:
- The alleged contravention did not occur (you didn’t drive in the bus lane)
- The vehicle was taken without your consent
- There’s been a procedural error on the part of the enforcement authority (e.g. the council has sent the fine by mistake, or the bus lane signs/markings weren’t correctly displayed)
- The traffic order was invalid
- You’re a hire firm and have supplied the hirer’s name and address
If any of the above apply, you may be able to appeal the bus lane fine:
- Informal challenge: Once you receive the fine (in the form of a Penalty Charge Notice), you typically have 28 days to either pay it or challenge it. If you decide to challenge, you should do this as soon as possible – usually within 14 days, as the fine is often discounted by 50% during this period.
- Submit your appeal: You can either write a letter to the address which should be provided on the PCN; or use the council’s online platform if they have one. Ensure you include the PCN number, your address, your vehicle’s registration number, and an explanation as to why you think the charge is unfair.
- Evidence: If possible, include any evidence that could support your claim. This could include photographic evidence, witness statements, or anything else relevant to your case. If this initial appeal is unsuccessful and you still feel like the fine is unfair, then you can make what is called a formal representation.
- Formal representation: If the informal challenge is rejected, you’ll receive a Notice to Owner (NTO). Once you receive this, you have 28 days to make a formal representation. This is essentially the same process as the informal challenge, but your case will be looked at more thoroughly.
- Appealing to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal: If your formal representation is also rejected, you’ll receive a Notice of Rejection of Representation and an appeal form from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) in England and Wales, or the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (PATAS) in London. In Scotland, appeals are handled by the Scottish Parking Appeals Service, and in Northern Ireland, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (NI). At this stage, you’ll have to present your case to an independent adjudicator. While the general procedure for appealing a bus lane Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is broadly the same throughout the UK, the details may vary depending on the specific local authority or council that issued the PCN. If you decide you want to appeal the PCN, check the rules of your local authority as they may differ.
Freedom of Information requests were sent to the 50 biggest UK local council areas by population size, plus the 32 London boroughs and the City of London, for 83 in total. 55 of these (27 in London, 28 for the rest of the country) gave us the full data requested. The data requested was the total number of bus lane PCNs given out in the 2021/22 financial year, and the revenue generated from these.