OUTCRY in The Chronicle over a bus lane which is catching out 300 drivers a month has forced transport chiefs to overhaul warning signs, but motorists insist more improvements are needed.
Reading Borough Council has adjusted signs in Southcote Lane after The Chronicle reported on a campaign by Salvation Army Lieutenant Kenneth Guest, who successfully overturned 11 tickets for driving into the bus lane inadvertently.
The bus lane, at the Southcote Lane and Circuit Lane roundabout, operates only between 7.30-8.45am on weekdays, but a Freedom of Information inquiry by Mr Guest revealed 7,741 fines - nearly 300 a month and worth around �231,000 - were issued between the camera being installed on August 7, 2009 and October 7 last year.
Mr Guest, in charge of the Salvation Army West Reading Corps, conceeds that camera logos on luminous yellow signs at the bus lane entrance, with text big enough to read the operating hours and compliant with traffic regulations, is a "step forward". But he claims the text on signs in Circuit Lane and leading up to the roundabout in Southcote Lane is too small to read.
He said: "I do not believe it is enough to warn the motorist in plenty of time. I still want to see bigger, brighter, clearer signage on the approaches. I'm keen the council creates a level playing field."
Reading West MP Alok Sharma, who pushed for the changes, says the minimum font for bus lane operation signs should be 48-60mm (1.89-2.36ins) high but the text on the warning signs varies from 25-30mm (0.98-1.18ins).
He added: "Even if the signs are within the statutory minimum requirements, if the council is serious about enforcing the bus lane and not just nurturing a cash cow, why not listen to local residents, take a pragmatic approach and improve the signposting?"
But borough transport leader Cllr Tony Page insisted the main signs are compliant and the warning signs are "entirely discretionary".He added: "It's there to assist people and if people are having difficulty reading those signs one questions whether they should be on the road."
He added: "We need bus lanes in Reading to promote and assist our excellent buses. It's been there at least 30 years and is well established."