Nearly 2,500 drivers have been hit with fines for using road lanes reserved for London 2012 Olympics VIPs, transport bosses have said.
Transport for London figures show that £312,000 has been paid by drivers who were caught driving in the Games Lanes, despite being given a six-day period of grace when they were first introduced. Only warnings were issued in that time to give drivers a chance to get used to the idea.
The 30 miles (48km) of lanes, used to transport athletes, officials and the media, were brought in on July 25. But last week, London mayor Boris Johnson admitted that many of the lanes had been “turned off” because they were not needed because so many were using public transport instead.
Nevertheless, some 2,400 fines, totalling £312,000, have been issued since the start of the month, TfL figures show.
Transport chiefs insisted the introduction of the lanes had “gone well”, with a 98 per cent compliance rate and 150 signs letting drivers know when they could and could not use the lanes.
Garrett Emmerson, TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport, said: “Games Lanes are of vital importance to get athletes, officials and the world's media to their events on time. We are using the lanes flexibly and keeping them open to general traffic wherever and whenever we can.”
He added: “We have no interest in unnecessarily penalising drivers and, with a very high compliance rate of around 98% to date, the overwhelming majority are following the requirement to stay out of Games Lanes when they are in use.
“We are now issuing PCNs (penalty charge notices) to drivers who contravene the ORN (Olympic Route Network), but will continue to be proportionate and sensible; we're seeking compliance from drivers, not income from fines. To date, some 2,400 PCNs have been issued.”
Only drivers of accredited vehicles may use the lanes. Anyone driving a non-accredited vehicle spotted using them, risks fines of up to £130.
Drivers were also warned that their vehicles could be impounded for breaking Games Lanes rules and would have to pay £40-per-day their car was held, as well as a £200 release fee. The Lanes are part of the 109-mile Olympic Road Network (ORN), which was set up to help speed Olympics traffic to the Games sites.
A TfL spokesman said: “Every Games Lane has a variable message sign at the start to make it clear to drivers whether or not the Games Lane is in use. They are open to normal traffic whenever they say ‘All traffic use Games Lane’.”