A Top City of London Money Maker Is This...Traffic Camera - BLOOMBERG
Bordered by the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange and Mansion House, Bank Junction is the beating heart of the City of London. It is also one of the financial district’s top money spinners.
A traffic camera system designed to catch vehicles who breach its stringent restrictions pulled in £15.2 million ($18.9 million) in penalty charges in the three years through 2021, according to a Freedom of Information request to the City of London Corporation, the district’s governing body.
Its £3.2 million haul in 2021 was about 40% of all such fines levied in the Square Mile and makes it one of the most lucrative traffic spots in the UK capital -- even with takings down almost half from 2020 as drivers cottoned onto the restrictions.
Only buses and pedal cyclists have been allowed to cross the intersection on weekdays between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. since 2017. Breach those restrictions and you’ll be hit with a £130 penalty notice, although that is reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days.
With multiple streets converging on a statue of the Duke of Wellington astride a horse, the junction was once one of London’s most popular thoroughfares. Now the streets feature warnings of the restrictions and offering advice on alternative routes. Blue bus and cycle only signs are displayed where the restrictions start, although those who have been penalized mutter darkly about the warnings being difficult to spot.
John Walters, a 36-year-old taxi driver, said he’d been fined five times at the junction and successfully appealed three times. “I’ve been nervous for quite a long time, it’s been challenging to pick up passengers with all these cameras,” he said in an interview. “It just makes driving here difficult.”
A representative for the City of London noted that parking and traffic enforcement aims to be self-financing and “where there is a surplus, it is ringfenced by law to highways and transport-related activities such as resurfacing.”
The prohibition at the junction is part of a wider trend that have seen similar crossroads across London become major generators of revenue, according to FOI requests by Bloomberg News.
Newham made £11.8 million from junctions similar to the one at Bank last year. Hackney in East London made £8.79 million and Enfield collected £7.58 million.
A spokesperson for Newham said traffic restrictions cut nitrogen dioxide in the immediate area by 40%. A representative for Enfield said much of the money funded free travel passes for the young and elderly. Hackney Council said the restrictions kept people safe and made streets greener, adding that the money is plowed into services including road maintenance and school transport.
At Bank Junction, the favorable market conditions behind its seven-figure income may soon be in retreat. The City of London is reviewing the restrictions at the crossroads that may see them eased.
Some users aren’t holding their breath.
“With the City of London, I’ll believe it when I see it,” said cab driver Scott Forth.