AutoProtect Engage blog page banner

Driving in a bus lane: when is it ok?

Date: Tue 11th September 2018   |   Author: L Blake

Driving in a bus lane: when is it ok?

Bus lanes are used to separate buses from other traffic, ensuring that traffic flows freely through cities and busy urban areas by easing congestion. But when can other road users use them? In this blog we will take a look at the rules around using bus lanes and detail any possible penalties if you’re caught driving in one when you shouldn’t be.

How to spot a bus lane

A bus lane is recognisable by a series of marked dashed white lines which appear on the road. These dashed lines turn to a solid white line, which indicates the edge of the bus lane which should not be crossed by other road users whilst the lane is in operation.

The white dashed lines mark the beginning and the ending of the bus lane. They also indicate areas where it may be acceptable for other vehicles to use the lane, for example, when turning left or in order to use a loading bay.

In addition to the white lanes, a bus lane is usually marked by white writing on the road which reads ‘bus lane’.

When can a bus lane be used?

Every bus lane has a blue road sign nearby which signals the time of the lane’s operation.  The time of operation simply means the period of time where only buses can use the lane. These times will vary from day to day, city to city and road to road.

The sign will display a time period and will indicate which days of the week the lane is in operation. In some cases, the sign may display two sets of times. This means that any time outside of the hours displayed, the lane may be used by other road users if it is safe to do so. This will help to ease congestion.

However, if there are no times are shown on the sign then the lane is in operation 24 hours a day and can’t be used at any point by unauthorised vehicles.

bus in bus lane

Who can use a bus lane?

This entirely depends on the bus lane as some lanes are restricted to just being used by buses. The blue sign which signals times of operation will also display which road users may use the lane.

The following vehicles may be allowed to use bus lanes at indicated times if they are shown on the sign:

  • Bicycles.
  • Licensed London Taxis (Hackney carriages).
  • Motorcycles (without side cars).
  • Mopeds.
  • Scooters.
  • Tricycles (non-motorised, motorised under 450kg, not with side cars).

What is the penalty for driving in a bus lane?

In some circumstances you may have no other option but to cross into a bus lane whilst it is in operation. This could include an instance where the road ahead is obstructed, you are trying to avoid an accident or you need to make way for an emergency vehicle. These are instances which are unavoidable.

Bus lanes are introduced using Traffic Regulation Orders through powers issued under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and carry penalties for misuse. Bus lanes are increasingly monitored by CCTV cameras to record any unauthorised vehicle driving or parking within the operational area. Following this analysis of footage, if you are deemed to be misusing the bus lane, then you will be isued with a Penalty Charge Notice.

A PCN will be sent to the vehicle’s registered keeper containing details of the contravention, vehicle information and photographic evidence. The charge can vary from area to area but is usually £90, with a 50% reduction if the amount is paid within 14 days of receiving the notice.

Can I appeal a bus lane Penalty Charge Notice?

If you feel that you have been wrongly penalised you may appeal against a Penalty Charge Notice. However, you will need to have sufficient grounds for doing so, such as:

  • the contravention didn’t occur
  • the charge is more than the relevant amount
  • a Fixed Penalty Notice had already been issued
  • you are not the registered owner/hirer
  • the vehicle was being hired out to someone who had signed a statement of liability
  • it was being kept by a motor trader
  • the vehicle was being used without consent.

It is important to note that any failure to pay a PCN notice could result in your local authority taking action against you.

We hope you found this article on the rules of driving in a bus lane helpful. For more driving tips and other interesting articles, visit the AutoProtect engage page.