Few things are more annoying for motorists than sitting stuck in traffic watching a bus, cyclist or taxi breezing past in an empty bus lane. While there's always that temptation to nip into a bus lane and make up a bit of distance, drivers definitely shouldn't.
Bus lanes exist for a reason and that's to allow for smoother, faster movement of high-capacity vehicles. Without them, the advantage of using a bus would be lost in urban areas, making them less efficient and probably forcing more cars onto the road. Therefore, it's in everyone's interest, including motorists', to abide by the rules around bus lanes.
What vehicles can use bus lanes?
There are two types of bus lane in Ireland: with-flow and contra-flow.
With-flow bus lanes run alongside traffic in the same direction and can be used only by buses, cyclists and taxis. Motorcyclists cannot use bus lanes.
A contra-flow bus lane may only be used by buses unless signs indicate that it may also be used by cyclists.
What denotes a bus lane?
Road markings for a bus lane involve a continuous white line accompanied by the words "Lána Bus". At the start of every bus lane there will be a blue sign indicating the types of vehicles allowed as well as an information sign indicating the hours during which the bus lane is operable.
Can you ever drive in a bus lane?
Drivers may use with-flow bus lanes outside of the operable hours shown on information signs.
Drivers may also briefly use with-flow bus lanes if exiting the main flow of traffic and turning left, and the continuous white line separating the bus lane from normal traffic may be replaced by a broken white one to allow for this.
Some streets in urban areas are marked as bus-only and can only be used by other traffic to gain access to a building or side road.
Motorists must not use contra-flow bus lanes at any time of the day or night.
Can you ever park in a bus lane?
Provided they're not otherwise causing an obstruction, drivers may park in with-flow bus lanes outside their hours of operation.
Drivers must not park in a contra-flow bus lane at any time.
What are the penalties for driving or parking in a bus lane?
While there's no explicit wording as regards penalties for driving in bus lanes, it likely falls under "Failure to comply with traffic lane markings", which can incur one penalty point on payment or three upon conviction in court. Drivers may be issued a fine that amounts to €60 if paid within 28 days or €90 if paid within the next 28 days.