The ‘money grabbing’ bus lane camera that drives Mancunian motorists mad

  • 'Money-grabbing' bus lane camera catches drivers out up to eight times and leads to failed driving tests
  • Camera in student area of Fallowfield is most profitable bus lane camera outside the city centre, earning £100,000 in 2020
  • Number of fines issued eight times higher than for camera with similar traffic volume
  • Check out the revenue and number of successful appeals for cameras in your area on our interactive map

Manchester drivers are losing patience with a “money grabbing” bus lane camera in the popular student living area of Fallowfield.

The Wilmslow Road camera earned Manchester City Council more than £100,000 in 2020, making it one of the most profitable locations in Manchester after Oxford Road and Portland Street.

Drivers complained about insufficient signage and traffic blocking the view on the bus lane when a driver turns right from Egerton Road onto Wilmslow Road.

Fallowfield resident and public relations student, Tony Madine, 21, said: “I think it’s deceptive. The camera is there to catch people out.”

Tony took to Facebook after he got caught by the camera on Wilmslow Road.

“Since it happened, every time I drive past I see at least one or two people caught,” he said.

Car on Bus Lane
This car was photographed twice – by our reporter from one side, and by the bus lane camera from the other. Image: Victoria Thiele

Within hours, Tony’s post in a Manchester students group attracted dozens of comments.

Medical student Marcus Reynolds received eight fines from the camera in his first year at university.

Lawrie Quinnie, who used to live on Wilmslow Road, said she got a ticket every time she tried to drive anywhere near her front door.

Several people have reported failing their driving tests because of the camera.

A driving instructor with the One Week Intensive Course driving school in Fallowfield said: “There is not enough warning. I got a ticket there. I don’t use that road very much. It’s too late when we turn on it.”

Fines are £30 for early payment, then rising to £60. A freedom of information request revealed that 3,818 penalty charge notices (PCNs) were issued in 2020, amounting to around £112,000 in fines. This makes Wilmslow Road the only camera outside the city centre yielding a six-figure-revenue.

Data: Dept for Transport

To Tony, this shows how unfair the camera location is to drivers. He said: “The amount of traffic that goes through there isn’t comparable to Oxford Road.”

According to road traffic statistics from 2019, just under 7,400 cars drive on Wilmslow Road per day, roughly the same number as on the Anson Road section of the A34.

However, the camera on Wilmslow Road creates eight times more revenue than the camera on Anson Road.

Business management student Jade Forster is one of several people who have successfully appealed against the Penalty Charge Notice. Out of the top six most profitable cameras, Wilmslow Road has the highest rate of successful appeals at 83%.

Tony did not appeal when he got fined, saying: “I was in the middle of my assignments, so I wasn’t sure if I could bother going through with a whole complaint process.”

He criticised a lack of information about the option to appeal: “The only thing it says on the letter you get is what happens if you don’t pay. It’s clearly a big cash cow and the council knows.”

Car close to bus lane
Another car comes crosses the line as it turns right from Egerton Road. Image: Victoria Thiele

The council said it could not comment on accusations of the camera being “deceiving” or “money-grabbing” because this could impact the outcome of ongoing legal proceedings.

It said: “All cases will be considered on their individual circumstances and merit and without regard to any financial interest in the penalty or to any decisions that may have been taken at an earlier stage in the proceedings.”

Transport for Greater Manchester said: “If bus lanes are used illegally they cannot be used for the purpose that they are intended and any delays to a bus is not just a delay to a single vehicle, it is a delay to all passenger using the bus.

“When the time of a bus delay is multiplied by the number of passengers, a minor delay can result in significant overall time delays. Therefore it is vital that bus lanes are enforced so that they can operate as intended and prevent unnecessary bus passenger delays.”

According to the council, an additional bus lane is proposed on Bridge Street, and two in Cross Street in the City Centre.