Major change to bus gate that has raised £500,000 in fines in four months

The new bus gate on Cumberland Road has made more than £500,000 in penalty fines since being installed in January.
The new bus gate on Cumberland Road has made more than £500,000 in penalty fines since being installed in January. -Credit:Bristol Live

A bus gate that was installed in Bristol at the start of 2024 now has a red asphalt road. The controversial bus gate on Cumberland Road has raised more than £500,000 in the first four months of this year , and has had the red asphalt added to improve noticeability to stop drivers being fined.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that from January 2 to March 19, more than 22,000 penalty charge notices were issued, which raised a total of £513,369 for Bristol City Council. The bus gate only affects traffic going inbound towards Wapping Wharf.

The red asphalt road almost stretches back towards Gas Ferry Road and the ‘bus gate’ wording that was originally on the road is no longer seen. It forms part of attempts to make the bus gate more visible.

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A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “The bus gate on Cumberland Road was installed to help improve air quality and give priority to buses travelling into the city centre. National government regulations only require councils to display two signs for a bus gate, but we have installed 14 signs for this one alongside clear ‘bus gate’ road markings.

“To give extra warning, an electronic sign was put in place for a month shortly after the bus gate was installed in September 2023. The first Penalty Charge Notices were not issued until four months later, in January 2024. Before that, people driving through this bus gate in error were issued with warning letters.

“While councils are not required to install red road surfacing at bus gates, we have now added that to the Cumberland Road bus gate to further enhance its visibility.”

The bus gate prioritises public transport by only allowing buses, cycles, taxis and motorcycles to enter the inbound lane. Drivers who choose to use the lane are fined £35, rising to £70 if not paid within 21 days.

The Friends of Cumberland Basin predicted in September that the bus gate close to Gas Ferry Road “will obviously be a lucrative source of funds to a financially-strapped City Council”, saying that the council “have offered no coherent reasons for the gate”. More than 1000 people have signed a petition asking the city council to remove the bus gate, saying that it “negatively impact(s) the local economy, and the lives and livelihoods of residents & businesses”.

Bristol City Council’s interim executive director of growth and regeneration, John Smith, has previously said that the bus gate on Cumberland Road “would achieve elements of the wider transport policy aspirations of the City Council’s overall transport strategy”.

In the city centre, there are also camera-enforced bus gates on Bristol Bridge and at the entrance of Baldwin Street from the centre. The bus gates are part of the council’s Bristol Transport Strategy and aim to help meet air quality and 2030 climate goals. To be carbon neutral by 2030, 90 percent of cars must be electric and car journeys across Bristol must be reduced by 40 per cent.