Councils pocketing £41 million(1) from drivers in bus lane fines

- Drivers confused by bus lane signage and call for it to be made clearer as new data reveals 888,000 fines were issued in 2017(1)

  • Councils in Scotland pocketed the most having issued fines to 145,000 motorists(1).
  • Almost half (48%) of motorists who have driven in a bus lane were confused and did so unknowingly – with two in five (41%) blaming unclear road markings or signage.
  • Two in five (41%) drivers call for bus lane fines to be put into making bus lane signage clearer, and in turn reduce the amount of confusion.
  • Don’t be confused…. about bus lanes. gives clarity on the issue by launching go-to guide on how to spot a bus lane and avoid getting a fine.


Councils across Britain are raking in millions from motorists’ mishaps as new data reveals £41 million in fines were issued to drivers for passing through a bus lane in just one year(1).


New research reveals motorists are left feeling confused by bus lane signage, and are making calls for them to be made clearer, as thousands are caught driving in a prohibited lane in one year alone.


In fact, new data, obtained by through Freedom of Information requests to local authorities found that 888,760 motorists were on the receiving end of a fine for driving in a prohibited bus lane in 2017 – paying as much as £41,807,647 in fines.


It is no secret bus lanes can carry many rules and restrictions, meaning that it can be confusing for motorists to know when they can use them, if at all. And thousands of drivers have lost the ‘can I, can’t I?’ battle and were served with a fine, which could be up to £70(2), on average.


While the issue spans across the country, councils in some regions are pocketing more than most from drivers’ confusion. For example, Scotland saw the highest number of drivers caught in the act, with Glasgow City Council and Aberdeen City Council issuing fines to a whopping 145,408 drivers in total. This would equate to an eye-watering £7.6 million and almost a fifth (18%) of the total amount of fines issued across Britain. In particular, motorists in Glasgow accounted for the majority of these, with 108,735 finding a fine on their doorstep, amounting to £6.5million – averaging £60 per fine(2). This was the most amount in fines issued by any council in Britain.


Top three councils which issued the most money from bus lane fines in 2017

Please see for more information.


However, the most profitable bus lane isn’t located in Glasgow. One particular bus lane on Oxford high street cost local drivers £1,488,120 in 2017.


While councils may argue that bus lanes are sign posted to make drivers aware, it seems that they aren’t quite clear enough for motorists, which is leading to a lot of confusion. In fact, almost two in five (39%) UK motorists have driven in a bus lane, although, worryingly, almost half (49%) of these weren’t aware of it at the time. And two fifths (41%) of these motorists say they did not know they were driving in a bus lane because the road markings weren’t very clear, or they did not see the sign. A further one in seven (15%) did so accidently. It’s no wonder two in five (41%) drivers would like to see the money spent making bus lane signs clearer, while more than a third (36%) think money should be spent making the lanes more clearly marked.


Clearly there is a lot of confusion about bus lanes, and when travelling through chaotic traffic, motorists may not know what to look out for, before it is too late. To help drivers avoid being caught out and forced to fork out for fines, has created a go-to guide to spotting a bus lane, and how to avoid driving in them. Usually bus lanes have signage indicating what type of vehicle can use the lane and the hours in which they can do this. But when travelling through roads surrounded by buses, cyclists and other traffic, these signs can be easily missed. In fact, motorists who have been fined for driving through a bus lane have been caught twice, on average.


It is unfortunate that this simple mistake has cost motorists dearly. However, the research found that there are some cases where motorists have been able to argue their case and avoid a fine.’s guide to avoiding a bus lane highlights just how easy it can be to refute a bus lane if it is issued unfairly. And more than a third (35%) of all motorists who have driven through a bus lane received a fine at some point – one in six (17%) of which refuted it and did not have to pay. Although, some weren’t so lucky, with almost one in 10 (9%) who also tried their luck not succeeding.


And there are some cases where drivers deserved a fine. More than a quarter (28%) of motorists who have driven in a bus lane admit to deliberately driving through a prohibited lane – most (29%) of which did so to bypass traffic.


Deliberate or not, councils are clearly making a lot of money from motorists driving through bus lanes. And motorists would like to see councils using the money they make to improving bus lanes, which in turn would reduce the amount of fines they are receiving.


The cost of motoring is already a burden on drivers, with fuel at record prices(3), and car insurance premiums starting to creep up(4) without the added pressure of fines. And this alone is enough to encourage the need for bus lanes to be made clearer to stop drivers being priced off the road.


Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says: “The £41 million in fines issued by councils are testimony to the fact that bus lanes are one of the most confusing challenges motorists face on our already chaotic roads.

“Drivers needs to be listened to for a change – it’s only right that some of this fine money is invested to make bus lanes and signage clearer. In the meantime, we’ve launched a go-to bus lane guide to help drivers navigate through the chaos and advise how they can challenge a fine if they think it has been unfairly issued.

“While there is a place for driving fines, many feel bus lane charges are unfair and excessive, adding to the ream of costs burdening drivers. Drivers who want a clear route to saving money should shop around online to compare motoring costs, including car insurance and fuel at”



Notes to editors

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 24th October and 26th October 2018.


  1. In July 2018, issued a Freedom of Information request to local authorities in the UK, of which 40 responded in England, Wales and Scotland, requesting the following information:
  • The total number of fines issued to motorists for driving in a bus lane in your local authority area for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 to date.
  • The total cost of fines (£) issued to motorists for driving in a bus lane in your local authority area for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 to date.
  • The location of the top three bus lanes in your local authority area which have incurred the most number of fines.
  • The total a) number of fines and b) cost of fines (£) incurred by these specific bus lanes, broken down by month for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 to date.
  1. Average fine calculated based on the amount in fines received or issued by councils per region, divided by the number of fines, of which £70 was the highest.
  2. fuel price index recorded record petrol and diesel prices in October 2018 – the highest since records began -
  3. According to’s latest car insurance price index, the average price of car insurance increased £8 (+1%) in Q3, the first increase since the end of 2017 -
  4. Glasgow monetary figure based on the number of fines, multiplied by £60 – the standard PCN amount for this fine type -
  5. Cardiff monetary figure based on the number of fines, multiplied by £70 – the standard PCN amount for this fine type -