An internal review of the Council’s systems for issuing penalty charge notices has discovered that a number of fines for bus lane contraventions which took place last year between 2 October 2017 and 16 December 2017 were issued too late.
Only drivers who have been caught on camera driving in bus lanes were issued with notices and they are still legally valid.
But legislation states that penalty charge notices must arrive in the post within 28 days after someone has been observed driving in a bus lane. The exception to this is cases where the Council has had to check details with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) when an extension of up to six months applies before the notice must arrive in the post.
An error in the way the automated system for processing these fines was set up meant that some penalty charge notices for contraventions which took place between 2 October 2017 and 16 December 2017 were posted out too late to have arrived within 28 days.
Anyone who believes they received their fine too late can go to www.manchester.gov.uk/buslanereviewto complete a short online form asking for their case to be reviewed. They will need to provide their address and penalty charge reference number if they still have it, or failing that their address and vehicle registration details. Each case will be reviewed on its own merits. This only applies to bus lane contraventions between 2 October 2017 and 16 December 2017 and the deadline for people to get in touch about their cases is 9 May 2018.
While most of the penalty charge notices issued during this period were sent out in time around 23,500 paid notices were issued too late to have arrived within 28 days.
But it would be wrong to say that all tickets which arrived more than 28 days after the contravention date were out of time. The real figure will be considerably lower because of a significant proportion of case where extensions apply. However, it is not possible to establish this figure without going through each case individually.
Kim Dorrington, Strategic Director of Highways, Transport and Engineering for Manchester City Council, said: “Although these penalty charge notices were all legitimately issued to drivers who had committed bus lane contraventions, it is of course extremely unsatisfactory than an administrative error meant a significant number were mailed out too late.
“We would stress that most of the notices issued during this period were in time and that anyone who has paid has admitted liability. We would also point out that because there are circumstances where extensions to the 28 day limit apply, many of those notices sent out later than they should have been will still have been received in time.
“But we want to be fair and proportionate. If people believe they received a notice which was posted too late they can write us and we will review their fines, on a case by case basis.
“While this is clearly a regrettable situation, it should not detract from the fact that bus lanes are effective in significantly improving the journey times of people on buses – the most-used form of public transport in the city – as well as improving the experience of cyclists and pedestrians. For example, more than two million drivers have correctly followed alternative routes avoiding Oxford Road since the bus gate there became operational last September.”