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Wedding car firm's frustration at fine after driving '60 yards' in bus lane to deliver bride and groom to Europa

Published 12/08/2015

One of the bus lanes at Great Victoria Street, Belfast, where cameras have resulted in car drivers being penalised
One of the bus lanes at Great Victoria Street, Belfast, where cameras have resulted in car drivers being penalised
Bus lanes only operate during certain periods
One of the cameras which are being installed to catch motorists driving in bus lanes in Belfast
A bus lane in Great Victoria Street

A wedding car firm have spoken of their frustration after they were fined when they drove up to '60 yards' in a bus lane to deliver a bride and groom to the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

It happened at a wedding on July 4 this year.

The firm were driving the bride and groom to the Europa Hotel in the centre of Belfast when they said they crossed into the bus lane for up to 60 yards before turning in to the entrance of the complex.

The owner of the firm, Mike Barr said: "With the bus lane outside the Europa we had to cross in to get to the entrance

On that day we got 3 fines within an hour and a half because we were caught in the bus lane.

"It's kind of ridiculous. We had to cross into that lane to get to the entrance to get the bride and groom safely to the Europa hotel", he told the Stephen Nolan Show.

Mr Barr said they weren't far away from the hotel.

He said: "One of them, we did turn in earlier than we maybe should have.  In the photographs we are yards away from the entrance.

"We aren't that far away from it at all."

"Two drivers were caught on the day but they only fined one of the cars - three times.

"Three times 11:22, 12:05 and 1pm and bearing in mind we have to take the bridesmaids down and we go back for the bride or we take the boys down first..

"Three times within an hour and a half and three separate penalties at £45 if we paid within a certain time and £90 if we don't.

"I tried to contest it and they said there was no grounds for cancellation because we were detected driving in a bus lane."

The driver on the day said he feels it is too dangerous to wait any longer to turn in.

Sam said: "We turn in about 50/60 yards before the entrance to the hotel complex.

"In my case I argue that it's actually dangerous to turn left from the outside lane. If you are driving down the outside lane the cars behind you aren't expecting you to stop in the outside lane to make a left turn directly into the hotel which you would have to do, you have buses, taxis and cyclists coming down the inside lane.

"And also just before the hotel complex there is a taxi stand. If you are turning left you cannot watch 2 lanes on the left.

"It's just too dangerous to turn left from an outside lane."

He added:"You have to get into that inside lane to turn left, to turn directly left perpendicular to the lane, it's just too dangerous."

A spokesman for Transport NI said: “Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) are issued when non-permitted vehicles are observed travelling an unnecessarily long distance within a bus lane.

"Drivers wishing to access properties or facilities adjacent to a bus lane are required to remain within the normal driving lane until they reach their intended destination and then cross the bus lane as near to a right angle as possible when safe to do so.

"In this particular case, the drivers themselves state that they were in the bus lane for approximately ‘50 yards’ before the required turn. TransportNI video evidence led to the correctly issued PCNs.”

Further reading:

New bus lanes in Belfast are to operate from next week

Belfast now has 30 miles of road that drivers hate 

Traders reserving judgment over new bus lanes until the schools come back

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