MORE than 500 motorists were caught ignoring the law by driving in a bus-only lane in just three days.

The short lane on South Shore Road between Sage Gateshead and the Baltic, called a bus gate, has repeatedly been used by drivers an illegal rat run to get between Gateshead and Newcastle city centre.

This week, after 20 years of motorists ignoring the restrictions, Gateshead Council switched on a bus-lane camera in an effort to deter motorists from breaking the law. In the first three days of operation 529 motorists were captured ignoring the road restrictions. Those caught in the first few days will get a written warning rather than the £60 penalty charge notice which will soon be issued. Offenders who do not pay could be taken to court.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director for development, transport and public protection, says: “The number of warnings we are issuing shows the sheer scale of the offending taking place at this location.

“Nobody using this stretch of road can be in any doubt that they are not permitted to use it – there’s clear signage on both sides of the road, it’s painted on the road itself, on the approach roads, and we even altered the road surface and installed a chicane to draw people’s attention to this bus gate.

“Those who have been caught so far should consider themselves extremely fortunate that they have only got a letter– and change their behaviour immediately otherwise they will be fined from next week."

The council decided in 2016 to invest in bus lane CCTV after repeated complaints from the public, bus operators and Northumbria Police about motorists abusing bus lanes to avoid queuing in traffic.