Motorists have been fined and taxis arrived late as new ‘Bus Gates’ were activated in Huddersfield town centre.

The controversial scheme to prevent vehicles from key routes around town launched first thing this morning.

And one taxi firm has claimed it has already caused chaos for its drivers.

Only buses and Hackney Carriage taxis are allowed to pass through the gates located at Westgate, Kirkgate, Railway Street, Market Street and High Street when they are activated.

Those who break the rules will be issued a £60 fine.

Bus gate map by Kirklees Council

The Examiner has this morning filmed many motorists flouting the rules.

Mohammed Ali, a manager at A1 taxis, said one of his passengers had missed her train this morning because of the new bus gates near the station.

He said: “I understand Hackney Carriage and Private Hire are different things but realistically they offer the same service to the public.

“This is causing us to fall out with our customers.

“We have to explain to them we can’t go to certain places.

“How are we supposed to pick up our disabled customers if we can’t get through – Kirklees haven’t thought this through.

“This morning it was chaos around the train station and St George’s Square.

“One customer missed her train because of it and we’ve had to cough up to take her to Bradford.

“If this keeps on happening we’re going to be out of pocket.

“We’re already struggling to make ends meet.”

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Mr Ali said information about routes for drivers hadn’t been supplied by the council and he had sent one driver down to Kirklees to pick up a map.

Beverley Hall, a partner in Mount Taxis, said the council had alerted them to the changes but also said she felt it was unfair as it meant higher fares for passengers using private hire taxis.

“It’s the same as bus lanes,” she said. “We’re not allowed in them.”

“It makes a difference to passengers as obviously the cost can increase as the driver has to go a different route, so it can make fares a bit higher.

“It also will effect some elderly passengers, who need to get as near as possible to drop off points and we can’t get there as easily.”

Both Mr Ali and Mrs Hall said drivers had all been told about the system and that they would have to pay their own fines.

Huddersfield Town centre new bus gates go live, vehicles ignoring the new bus gate on Market Street.

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said: “Nationally the majority of enforcing councils do not allow private hire vehicles to pass through bus lanes/gates.

“This is partly because national legislation states that only vehicles available for public hire - such as buses and Hackney Carriages - are allowed to use bus lanes, not private hire vehicles.

“In addition, Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles operate in different ways: Hackney Carriages can pick up from taxi ranks and be flagged down in the street, this means they do not know where their customers want to go until they get into the cab, and this destination could be within an area covered by a bus gate or bus lane.

“Private hire vehicles are only legally available if pre-booked, and cannot be flagged down in the street. This enables them to plan their journeys in advance and avoid any streets where access is restricted.

“Another reason is that Hackney Carriages which have a lit ‘taxi’ sign on the roof making them easily identifiable.

Huddersfield Town centre new bus gates go live, Kirkgate.

“However, private hire vehicles look like a regular vehicles, especially in the dark. If private hire vehicles were allowed through the bus gates it could lead to confusion for members of the public who may think they can follow them through.

“In addition, as a member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), the council needs to be consistent in its approach to driving enforcement activities and mirror exemptions already in place across the WYCA.”

Bus gates will be active from 8am to 6pm around Westgate, Kirkgate, Market Street and Railway Street.

On High Street, near Huddersfield Town Hall, they will operate from 10am to 4pm.

People caught out will have their fines reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.