It turns out that Hamilton police officers didn’t lay 30 tickets in the new bus-only lane after all this week, but they did issue about 26 educational pamphlets to motorists.
Initial reports based on calls to Coun. Brian McHattie’s office said as many as 30 drivers had been improperly fined $250 for turning right from the new transit lane on King Street.
But McHattie looked into it and says no such tickets were laid. Instead, officers are handing out educational pamphlets during the one-week grace period. And they handed out plenty on Wednesday, the first day of the one-year pilot project.
McHattie spoke to Chief Glenn De Caire of Hamilton Police Service, and “there were no tickets for illegal right-hand turns,” the Ward 1 councillor said.
“It may have been spurious or someone trying to cause trouble.”
The transit-only lane runs along King Street from Mary to Dundurn Streets. In most areas, the bus-only lane is the lane farthest to the right, although in some sections, it’s one over from the right lane.
The city experienced some bumps on the first day. Staff missed removing one of the left-turn signs downtown, which caused traffic to back up for blocks.
Thursday has been smoother, McHattie said.
“It’s going to take a while for people to get used to it, and perhaps find other routes if they have that opportunity,” he said.
But “I was out there this morning and it seemed to be running much smoother than the day before.”
Hamilton police declined comment on the issue, instead directing calls to McHattie's office.
Council discussed the bus-only lane at a meeting Wednesday night. Coun. Sam Merulla of Ward 4 had an alternative for motorists.
“We’re underutilizing Burlington Street,” he said. “In some parts of Burlington Street, we have up to six lanes.”
Often when Merulla travels Burlington Street, “I’m using my side view mirrors, the rear-view mirror, and wondering where the traffic is. I encourage people to utilize that route throughout this pilot project.”
If people don’t like the bus-only lane, they can let the city know. “It is a pilot,” Merulla said.
When the project launched on Wednesday, “I went down that route and saw it firsthand and it was pretty overwhelming,” he said. “I will be seeking alternate routes.”