More than two dozen motorists are hopping mad after they drove home with pricey traffic tickets on the first day of a new transit-only lane in downtown Hamilton.
A city plan for "grace period" for enforcement of a week to allow drivers to get used to the new lane was communicated to Hamilton police, but the communication must not have reached all front-line officers, Coun. Brian McHattie said.
'There was communication to (police) on it, but for some reason, it didn’t make it to the appropriate officers.' - Councillor Brian McHattie
A new city program launched Tuesday sees the right lane of King Street from Mary to Dundurn reserved for buses (it's the second lane for a portion of the downtown). But cars are allowed to enter the lane to make right turns at some intersections.
On the first day of the pilot project, about 30 people received tickets that cost them $250 and two demerit points.
According to the upset calls to McHattie’s office, tickets were laid at Locke, Pearl and Ray streets, among others.
Chief Glenn De Caire is looking into it, said McHattie, who represents Ward 1.
The first week of the program is supposed to be a grace period, and McHattie would like to see the tickets revoked.
“There was communication to (police) on it, but for some reason, it didn’t make it to the appropriate officers,” he said.
The dedicated bus lane is a one-year pilot project. There are some growing pains, said Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2.
For example, city staff forgot to remove a left-turn sign that caused traffic to back up for several blocks, he said. The problem has been remedied.
He has faith in the project and asks for drivers to be patient.
“This is a crucial one-year pilot program as it relates to where we’re heading in the future and our transit needs,” said Farr, who received two phone calls and three emails Tuesday.
“I’m seeing enough feedback to know we’re doing the right thing in making sure we keep an eye on this, and adjust where necessary, tweak where necessary.”
Reaction on social media was mixed, with a strong dose of anger over traffic delays and congestion downtown.
Councillor Chad Collins said he heard from residents about delays of 15 to 20 minutes.
Councillor Brad Clark of Stoney Creek didn’t field angry phone calls. But he has doubts whether the program will be effective.
“If the concern is moving the buses quickly along then it needs to be a completely segregated route, which it really isn’t,” he said. “It’s a hybrid.”
City council narrowly approved the transit lane earlier this year. The city is spending about $300,000 on the project.