Councillors' calls to scrap 'cash cow' bus lane in Hartfield Road

Stephen Hammond MP and Merton Conservative Group leader Debbie Shears make their point by parading a pantomime

Stephen Hammond MP and Merton Conservative Group leader Debbie Shears make their point by parading a pantomime "cash cow" in Hartfield Road

First published in Parking Madness by

A “cash cow” bus lane brought into Wimbledon town centre last year has yielded nearly seven times more income for the council than expected, councillors have argued in a bid to have it removed.

Merton’s opposition Conservative group – which paraded a pantomime cow through the town centre on Saturday morning – have registered a motion to scrap the bus lane in Hartfield Road.

The motion, to be delivered at tonight’s full council meeting at the Civic Centre, Morden, is the first time Conservatives have formally called for the bus lane’s removal.

When it was introduced in November 2011, the council estimated its annual income would be £110,000, but a Freedom of Information request from the Wimbledon Guardian found that, within 10 weeks, the total fines received was £148,008.

After five months, the bus lane had generated more than £300,000 after 5,600 penalty charge notices were issued, but no evidence has been given to show that bus journey times through the town centre have improved.

Councillor Richard Hilton, Conservative spokesman for environment and regeneration, said: “After more than 5,700 tickets issued, the true reason for introducing the bus lane has been exposed.

“Yet another scheme by the Labour council to milk our residents for every penny while they sit on £43m of unspent cash reserves.

“It’s done very little to ease congestion, or speed up bus journey times, but a great deal for the council’s coffers.”

Despite the controversy surrounding the bus land before it was introduced, many motorists have complained, some of whom were fined multiple times before they had realised they had committed a traffic offence.

When questioned by this newspaper about whether enough was done by the council to warn people there was now a bus lane in Hartfield Road during rush hours, the director who oversees traffic enforcement said they had.

Chris Lee, director of environement and regeneration, said: “I know it created a lot of interest. It is not as if we introduced it in the middle of the night.

"We put notices of the bus lane well in advance. People say we only painted it red weeks after, but that was the process we had to adhere to.

“In terms of signs, what we can put on pavements is very heavily prescribed. We do not want to clutter up our streets.

"We are always being criticised for how there are too many signs on the highway.

“We don’t always get it right but we get it right more than we get it wrong.”

This week, the council's cabinet member for performance and implementation, Councillor Mark Betteridge said: "The bus lane was reintroduced to assist in reducing congestion by helping the flow of buses.

It also helps improve journey times and provides a safer cycle facility along Hartfield Road."


What do you think? Should the council scrap the bus lane? Leave a comment below, tweet us at @WimbledonNews or email Omar at: ooakes@london.newsquest.co.uk

Comments (5)

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2:13pm Wed 11 Jul 12

tjames says...

get rid of it and mitcham and morden road bus lanes
get rid of it and mitcham and morden road bus lanes tjames
  • Score: 0

3:25pm Wed 11 Jul 12

Mordenman says...

Councillor Mark Betteridge has clearly never been anywhere near Hartfield Road. Congestion is worse than ever. Bus congestion is simply a joke and cyclists take their lives in their hands every time they enter the road as motorists have to turn left across 2 lanes of traffic to avoid being fined. The man is a fantasist.
Councillor Mark Betteridge has clearly never been anywhere near Hartfield Road. Congestion is worse than ever. Bus congestion is simply a joke and cyclists take their lives in their hands every time they enter the road as motorists have to turn left across 2 lanes of traffic to avoid being fined. The man is a fantasist. Mordenman
  • Score: 0

4:48pm Wed 11 Jul 12

Mulder says...

Flow of buses? Mark Betteridge should get on a bus and travel up Hartfield Road in morning peak hour - I would like to hear him talk about reduced congestion then. The bus lane actually causes cars to back up and block buses, so the bus lane is completely counter-intuitive.

I get off the 164 at Bertram Cottages each morning and by the time I am at the top of Hartfield Road, the bus is still in the same spot where I left it because the single-file cars end up blocking it.

The bus lane needs to go.
Flow of buses? Mark Betteridge should get on a bus and travel up Hartfield Road in morning peak hour - I would like to hear him talk about reduced congestion then. The bus lane actually causes cars to back up and block buses, so the bus lane is completely counter-intuitive. I get off the 164 at Bertram Cottages each morning and by the time I am at the top of Hartfield Road, the bus is still in the same spot where I left it because the single-file cars end up blocking it. The bus lane needs to go. Mulder
  • Score: 0

9:13am Thu 12 Jul 12

mjschumacher100 says...

The bus lane is crazy, it doesn't help busses or motorists and it's dangerous, cars having to switch lanes then switch back. Madness. Get rid.
The bus lane is crazy, it doesn't help busses or motorists and it's dangerous, cars having to switch lanes then switch back. Madness. Get rid. mjschumacher100
  • Score: 0

8:45am Sat 14 Jul 12

Tobermory says...

Bus lane should be on the right hand side of the road......simples! Sort it out Tfl!!
Bus lane should be on the right hand side of the road......simples! Sort it out Tfl!! Tobermory
  • Score: 0

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