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Bus Lane Fines – Guide, Laws & Appeals

This bus lane fines guide provides readers with easy-to-understand information about bus lane fines and the different ways to deal with them. If you recently received a bus lane fine, you’re in the right place. 
Fight back against bus lane fines with JustAnswer, get legal guidance now!

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Have you got a bus lane fine and are not sure what to do next? Don’t worry; you’re in the right place for answers. Every month, over 130,000 people come to us for advice on fines and tickets. We understand that getting a fine can be worrying and can cause problems in your daily life.

In this guide, we’ll share easy-to-understand information on:

  • What bus lanes are.
  • The rules of bus lanes.
  • The reasons for getting a bus lane fine.
  • How to appeal a bus lane fine.
  • What might happen if you don’t pay your fine.

We know that a fine can feel like a big problem, but we’re here to help. This guide will give you the steps you need to deal with your bus lane fine. It’s full of useful tips and examples to guide you.

Let’s get started and help you understand more about your bus lane fine.

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What are bus lanes?

Bus lanes are road lanes often found in town or city centres, which can only be used by buses and select other vehicles, such as taxis and emergency services. The purpose of a bus lane is to ensure public transport runs smoothly and reliably, especially during peak times.

Some bus lanes are always in effect, meaning you can never drive your vehicle in these lanes. But other bus lanes might only be operational on certain days or between fixed hours. This is usually signposted and allows you to use the bus lane at non-peak times.  

Bus lane rules: what you need to know

A bus lane begins and ends with a dashed white line on the road. The rest of the bus lane has solid white line road markings.

To use a bus lane when the lane is operational, you must either be a:

  1. 10+ seater bus
  2. Licensed taxi
  3. Moped
  4. Scooter
  5. Bicycle

However, roadside signage should indicate which vehicles can and cannot use the bus lane. There might be slight differences between bus lanes, so the above isn’t always correct. 

What happens if I drive in a bus lane?

If you drove in a bus lane at a time of the day when regular vehicles aren’t allowed to use the lane, it’s likely that the contravention of the law will have been seen on CCTV and you’ll receive a bus lane fine. 

What are bus lane fines?

Bus lane fines are fines issued to motorists who drive or park in a bus lane or bus gate when they’re not authorised to do so. 

The bus lane contravention is usually seen on camera and you therefore receive the bus lane fine in the post. 

This can be quite a shock if you never realised you wrongfully used a bus lane or weren’t aware that bus lane fines existed. 

Why have I received a bus lane fine?

You will receive a bus lane fine if you are the registered keeper of a vehicle that was spotted wrongfully using a bus lane. 

The bus lane fine is sent to the registered keeper because their address is easily accessible via the DVLA – and because it’s the vehicle owner who is responsible for paying the fine. 

You might not have been the person driving at the time, but you’ll still be the person who receives the bus lane fine, and unfortunately, it’s usually your obligation to pay. 

Who issues bus lane fines?

Bus lane fines are mostly issued by local authorities to motorists who wrongfully use a bus lane in the council area. 

You don’t have to live in the council area to receive a bus lane fine from the council. They can track you down and send the fine anywhere in the UK. 

Transport for London (TfL) can also issue bus lane fines for bus lane contraventions on the London roads they manage, known as “red routes”. The red routes make up approximately 5% of all London roads and can be some of the busiest roads in the capital. 

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Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) bus lane fines

The official name for a bus lane fine from the council is a Penalty Charge Notice, but Penalty Charges can be issued for other reasons as well. 

If you received a Penalty Charge Notice for an alleged contravention not to do with a bus lane, head back to our council fines hub to find the information relevant to you and your fine.

How long does a council have to issue a bus lane fine?

In the majority of situations, the council has up to 28 days to serve you the Penalty Charge Notice from the date of the incident. 

However, the council might have more time to issue you the bus lane fine if the DVLA has been slow to respond to their request for the address of the keeper of the vehicle. 

The council needs to ask the DVLA for the keeper’s address so they know where to send the PCN. They do this by using your vehicle registration number.  

Do you get penalty points for driving in a bus lane?

Driving in a bus lane is considered a civil offence rather than a criminal offence, which means it’s highly unlikely that you’ll receive penalty points on your driving licence

What happens if you drive in a bus lane by mistake (UK)?

Even if you drive in a bus lane at the wrong time by mistake, you can still be issued a bus lane fine.

If you do find yourself in a bus lane by accident, it’s important to exit the lane at the earliest safe opportunity to do so. 

Don’t try to get back into the correct lane immediately if it will put yourself and other vehicles in danger. 

How much is a bus lane fine (UK)?

Penalty Charge Notices for bus lane contraventions are now £70 in most locations, but there can still be geographical differences in the amount of these fines. 

For example, Transport for London will now issue bus lane fines of £160 when wrongfully driving in or parking in a bus lane on a London red route. 

However, both local councils and Transport for London will offer you a 50% reduced amount if you pay early. You’re usually given a 14-day window to pay the fine and save 50%. 

This can be beneficial if you accept guilt and simply want to save some money by paying within 14 days.

If you want to know more about the cost of bus lane fines from a particular municipality, why not check out our location-specific bus lane fine guides?

What Is the bus lane fine 20-metre rule?

The bus lane fine 20-metre rule is a supposed rule that you can mistakenly enter a bus lane and exit the lane without being fined if you travelled fewer than 20 metres in the bus lane. 

Unfortunately, the bus lane fine 20-metre rule is a myth

The truth is you can be given a bus lane fine when you enter the bus lane for any amount of time and for any distance. 

How to avoid paying a bus lane fine

The only way to avoid paying a bus lane fine is to make a successful appeal against the fine

Your appeal will first need to be submitted to the council or Transport for London – whichever group issued your fine.  

Most councils and TfL will have their own appeals process. You’ll need your PCN number to make the appeal, so don’t throw away the fine. 

For more information on what to expect, consider reading this How to Avoid Paying a Bus Lane Fine guide.  

Successful Appeal Case Study


Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

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Do I pay or appeal a bus lane fine?

You should make an appeal against a bus lane fine if you think there is a real reason you shouldn’t have to pay. 

For example, maybe you moved into the bus lane to avoid an accident, or to allow an ambulance to pass?

Remember, the incident will have been caught on camera, so you shouldn’t lie to try and get off the hook. 

If you don’t have a genuine reason to appeal your bus lane fine, it’s probably best to pay early to take advantage of the 50% discount. 

What happens if I appeal a bus lane fine and lose?

When you appeal a bus lane fine and lose, you’ll either have to:

  1. Pay the 50% discounted fine rate within so many days. This will only be an option if you made your appeal within the initial period when the discounted fine was still on offer to you. 
  1. Pay the full fine amount within so many days, typically has to be done within 28 days.
  1. Escalate your appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. The process should be explained to you by the PCN issuer at the time they reject your appeal. 

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

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What happens if I don’t pay my bus lane fine?

If you don’t pay your bus lane fine within 28 days, the PCN issuer will send a Notice to Owner and give the vehicle keeper a further 28 days to pay. If no payment or appeal is made within the 28 days, a charge certificate will be sent to the vehicle owner.

A charge certificate increases the fine by 50% and gives the vehicle keeper a further 14 days to pay. 

What happens if you continue to ignore a bus lane fine after a charge certificate has been issued? Well, court action could be taken against you and you might have to deal with bailiffs! 

Can the police issue a bus lane fine?

Yes, the police can also issue bus lane fines if an officer sees you use a bus lane when not authorised to do so. 

This is more likely if they see you wrongfully use a bus lane when on patrol and subsequently pull you over.  

What is a Fixed Penalty Notice bus lane fine?

A Fixed Penalty Notice bus lane fine is the type of fine you’ll receive if you get a bus lane fine from a police officer

But, it’s more common to get a bus lane Penalty Charge Notice from a local council or TfL than it is to get a bus lane fine from the police.

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