Victoria bus drivers frustrated with motorists clogging up priority lanes
Bus drivers in Victoria say they're fed up with motorists sneaking into bus lanes to try to beat traffic – and they're calling for more enforcement from police.
The priority lanes have been installed on Douglas Street for years and restrict traffic to buses only during rush hour, between 6 and 9 a.m. southbound and 3 and 6 p.m. northbound.
But many drivers aren't following those rules and use the lanes to sneak past rush-hour traffic, increasing wait times for buses, according to Unifor 333 President Ben Williams.
"It's very unfortunate and frustrating for the operators when they see other motorists use those bus lanes during the bus-only hours," he said. "They're there to get people out of the downtown core, to keep and adhere to their schedule."
Last fall, police launched an enforcement campaign aimed at hammering home the hours of operation for the bus lanes.
Those who get caught riding in the lanes during specified times could face a $109 fine, but Williams says that enforcement hasn't been seen as of late.
"I can't say that we have seen any enforcement of it," he said. "We can create all the bus lanes we want, but if nobody's going to enforce the regulations that are there, it's not going to do much to speed up the transit system."
He said the goal isn't to fine as many motorists as possible, it's to get drivers to know and abide by the rules regarding bus lanes.
BC Transit says the priority lanes being jammed with drivers during rush hour ends up having a detrimental effect on ridership as well.
"It is frustrating for riders and bus drivers and everybody involved when there are private vehicles in those lanes," said BC Transit spokesman Jonathan Dyck. "They are supposed to give us an advantage over being in the other lanes and help transit move more effectively and efficiently."
Victoria police wasn't able to say how many, if any, tickets its handed out since the bus lanes came into effect, but local bus drivers say something has to change so rush hour traffic flows like it should.