Council chiefs in South Tyneside could rake in a staggering £210,000 in fines after catching 3,506 motorists flouting a ban on using a 20m stretch of road in the past three months.
Despite their claims that warning signs are clear, the number of drivers captured on camera going through a bus lane on Edinburgh Road on the Scotch Estate, Jarrow, has rocketed.
In the three weeks after the road was made off limits, on July 24, 800 vehicle users – or about 270 a week – were caught out.
But figures for the next eight weeks – to October 10 – show a further 2,700 drivers, or around 337 a week, had illegally passed through.
Each ticket carries a £60 fine, reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks.
Today, ward councillor Lee Hughes repeated his calls for highways bosses to improve what he claims is inadequate warning signage.
He also revealed he was aware of one driver caught out 18 times in three weeks while staying in South Tyneside for work.
Coun Hughes blasted: “There is clearly something wrong with a system that catches so many people out.
“The signs are not clear enough and are easily missed – they must be improved. A lot of drivers simply do not see them.
“If it was highlighted properly, this would not be happening. It’s far too many fines.”
He added: “I know of one man who lives in Wales but who house-shares in Jarrow every other three weeks.
“He did not see any warnings and repeatedly drove through the bus lane on his way to work and has now been hit with 18 tickets.
“He knew nothing of the ban until he went home to Wales to find the first ticket, which was promptly followed by the others.”
The lane has been turned into what South Tyneside Council calls a ‘bus gate’, meaning only buses are allowed through.
The section runs onto the new three-lane A194 Newcastle Road and is part of a year-long £7.5million traffic improvement scheme, completed in July.
South Tyneside Council said the Edinburgh Road exit has been closed to vehicles except buses to enhance safety, following a history of accidents, and to improve traffic flow on the A194.
It insisted the introduction of the bus gate has been widely publicised, and that all signage was in accordance with the Traffic Sign Regulations and General Directions 2016.
A spokesman said: “The bus lane at Edinburgh Road is clearly signed and complies with the requisite Department for Transport regulations.
“Video cameras automatically record incidents of people illegally driving in the bus lane and their vehicle registration plate.
“Vehicle owners have the right to appeal if they feel the ticket has been wrongly issued.
“Details on how to do so can be found on the reverse of the Penalty Charge Notice.
“Ideally, we would not have to issue any fines. However, exiting via Edinburgh Road is both illegal and unsafe and we would encourage motorists to observe the restrictions to avoid receiving a penalty.”