Krakow is one of the cities participating in a European Union pilot program aimed at improving public transportation. One feature of the program involves designating some traffic lanes only for public transport vehicles.
The special lanes significantly reduce the time it takes to make a bus trip. There are no separate devices between the special lanes and other lanes, however.
To prevent non-transit drivers from illegally using the special lanes, Krakow has obtained cameras to monitor the lanes. Some are on buses, others on unmarked police cars and others on the street — for example, at Mickiewicza Avenue’s crossing with ul. Czarnowiejska and near the Jagiellonian Library.
“Before the cameras were installed, there were nearly 70 drivers breaking the law every hour,” said Ryszard Grabski, superintendent of traffic police in Krakow. But after Krakow’s media engaged in a campaign to publicize the situation, this frequency decreased by more than 60.
“At first, those who broke the law were most often from Krakow,” Grabski said. Now they are mostly visitors to the city. Another group of the law-breakers is made up of local dodgers willing to take a risk, no matter what, who are not scared off even by a potential penalty because — as they say — sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t.
What keeps most drivers honest is the possibility of a fine of up to 500zl and 5 penalty points on their driver’s license for using the transit lanes illegally. Police may use the video cameras to send a ticket to an offender up to 30 days after the punishment offense. The cameras also can detect traffic violations that do not involve illegal use of special lanes — and police can ticket those drivers as well.
The camera system is not always reliable, however. The camera images are sent to the Public Road Authority of Krakow, which checks the license plate numbers in the images to determine whether a driver was entitled to use a special lane. Because of technical problems, however, the cameras do not always work.