TRANSPORT chiefs are paying the police to clamp down on motorists who drive in bus lanes.
Fed-up bus bosses have put their hands in their pockets after being swamped with complaints from bus drivers struggling to get past cars parked in bus lanes or travelling illegally in them.
Metro is paying police to do overtime or go into work on their days off to patrol the lanes and catch wayward drivers, who also block bus stops.
Huddersfield police have already caught 50 motorists this month.
All have been given £30 fixed-penalty tickets.
Sgt Andy Addy, of Huddersfield traffic police, said the two bus lanes in Huddersfield at the centre of the clampdown are the Huddersfield-bound carriageway on Wakefield Road during the morning rush-hour and the outward-bound section on Lockwood Road in Lockwood at teatimes.
Bus lanes were set up nationwide to make sure buses could drive freely into town centres, speeding up travel times and, hopefully, encouraging more people on to public transport.
Sgt Addy said people driving in bus lanes were also putting themselves and others in danger.
"Other drivers don't expect them to be there, and it is especially dangerous when they zoom up the lane undertaking other traffic," he said.
"The project will continue throughout March and has been funded by Metro."
Sgt Addy said police regularly received complaints from exasperated bus drivers - and other motorists - fed up of seeing car drivers breaking the law by driving in bus lanes or parking in them.
He added: "We have been policing the bus lanes most days. We discovered that some of the motorists we have stopped have been committing other motoring offences, such as driving without insurance."
Taxis - both hackney cabs and private hire vehicles - are allowed to use the Wakefield Road bus lane as a pilot project.
The Metro scheme is running throughout West Yorkshire.
A Metro spokesman said: "All the investment by Metro, Kirklees Council and bus operators to raise kerbs, introduce level-boarding vehicles and maximise access to public transport is wasted if people park in bus stops and prevent buses pulling up.
"Cars in bus lanes prevent buses skipping queues and delivering 50 or 60 people."