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Can taxi drivers use ALL bus lanes outside of their licensed area in England and Wales?

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

There has been long-term confusion over whether taxi drivers can freely utilise all bus lanes across England and Wales.

Bus lanes that can be used by taxis are usually marked with signage explicitly stating "TAXI," unless specified otherwise. However, the availability and access to bus lanes for taxis may differ depending on the local authority and council regulations.

A helpful guide issued by Avon and Somerset Taxi Compliance Officer PC Patrick Quinton in 2021 suggested that most bus lanes in Bristol are accessible to licensed Hackney Carriages, but the situation is not consistent throughout the entire country.

It is therefore advisable for taxi drivers to exercise caution when using bus lanes outside of their local area, as some councils restrict access to their bus lanes solely for local taxis. Do not assume that taxis can use bus lanes, even when the sign says ‘TAXI’, in all locations across England and Wales.

Violations of bus lane regulations carry penalties, and bus lanes are increasingly monitored through the use of CCTV cameras. These cameras record any instances of unauthorised vehicles entering or parking within operational bus lane areas.

The recorded footage is then carefully reviewed to determine whether any infringements were due to mitigating circumstances, such as making way for emergency services. However, if a vehicle is identified as utilising a bus lane during its operational hours without proper authorisation, the registered keeper of the vehicle can expect to receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

The PCN includes detailed information regarding the contravention, vehicle specifications, and photographic evidence to support the case against the unauthorised use of the bus lane. The amount payable as a penalty charge may vary across different regions, with higher fines typically implemented in London and within the Congestion Charge zone.


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