More than 5,000 fewer bus lane fines were handed out in Lancashire over the last 12 months compared to two years ago.

This suggests motorists might finally be getting the message about restrictions that have been in place for many years at more than a dozen locations across the county.

New figures reveal the number of penalty charge notices (PCNs) issued by Lancashire County Council for flouting bus-only rules fell from 41,501 in 2021/22, to 36,324 in 2023/24.

There was a general slump in fines between 2022 and 2023 at 11 out of 14 sites watched over by Lancashire County Council cameras to ensure stretches of road reserved for buses and other authorised vehicles are not strayed into by other drivers.

But two in Accrington saw more motorists penalised.

An additional restricted area has since been introduced in Burnley, the stats for which show the capacity for new bus lanes to catch out unsuspecting motorists – despite the installation of signs warning them of the changes.

Nearly 25,000 drivers were handed a PCN for travelling through the ‘bus gate’ in Hammerton Street in the town – at the junction with Hargreaves Street – during its first full calendar year in operation in 2023.

That was by far the most breached bus restriction across Lancashire in that timeframe.

Preston remains the bus lane and bus gate capital of the county – with seven such facilities across the city generating fines for 29,158 drivers last year.

At six sites, the total number of PCNs issued dropped compared to 2022 – yet not on the stretch of Fishergate between Mount Street and Corporation Street.

Nearly 8,800 unauthorised vehicles crossed into the bus gate between 11am and 6pm – an increase of nearly 700 on the previous 12 months.

The tally is, though, well down on the near 31,000 fines issued to misguided motorists at that location back in 2018/19.

The no-right-turn restriction at the top of Butler Street – introduced to prevent traffic entering Fishergate Hill bus lane – was missed or ignored on 7,300 occasions, a reduction of around 800 compared to 2023.

At the other end of Fishergate, the longstanding bus gate at the junction of Cheapside still managed to flummox 4,700 drivers in 2023 – down by around 500 on the year before.

Elsewhere in the city, the most significant drop in bus lane breaches came at one of the newest controlled routes – on Tithebarn Street, opposite the bus station. That spot generated nearly 4,000 PCNs last year, down more than 3,500 on 2022.

The statistics for bus lane breaches do not show repeat offenders – so the same vehicles may account for more than one of the PCNs issued.

Lancashire County Council has yet to publish its income from bus lane fines for 2023/24. But the authority says it receives an average of £35 for each such penalty charge notice (PCN).

So around 5,177 fewer PCNs generated during the last financial year compared to 2022/23 is likely to cost County Hall in the region of £182,000.

The standard bus lane fine is £70, but that is halved if the charge is paid within 21 days.

In 2022/23, £1.8 million worth of bus lane PCNs were issued by the county council. But fines totalling £233,000 were cancelled, while a further £122,000 worth were deemed unrecoverable even after the potential involvement of bailiffs.

Peter Bell, regulation and enforcement manager for Lancashire County Council, said: “We would be happy if everyone followed the rules and we never had to issue a penalty for someone entering a bus lane.

“We have always expected income from bus lane enforcement to fall over time as people’s awareness of them increases.”

In Accrington 470 motorists were fined for breaching the King Street bus lane, up from 433 the previous year.

Along Whalley Road two drivers were similarly caught out, where no motorists had fallen victim for the 12 months before.

One Hyndburn drop was recorded for Whalley Road, Clayton-le-Moors. For the Pennine Reach scheme, the tally decreased from 1,635 to 1,542.

And elsewhere in Burnley 158 drivers were fined for flouting the Church Street restriction, down from 337 the year before.