Box Junctions: Traffic Management or a Council's Cash Cow?
Yellow box junctions are designed to keep junctions clear, prevent congestion and keep traffic flowing. However, because of complex road structures and difficulties for drivers operating in unfamiliar areas, this traffic management system has now been more commonly labelled as a ‘moneybox’ and also as the Council and TfL’s ‘cash cow’.
An inquest made by the BBC revealed that of the 32 London Boroughs, only seven do not have camera-monitoring box junctions. This perceived money-making phenomenon, came under deep scrutiny and increased media attention when it was revealed that in 2016, Hammersmith and Fulham council generated a staggering £2.1m in yellow box junction fines alone.
Richard Hayes, from the Institute of Highway Engineers, made comment on this particular box junction which resides in Fulham:
"Something is definitely wrong.” "Should there be a lot of infringement, then I think there is something wrong with the installation." "The situation isn't the box junction - it's the traffic flow ahead of the box junction that is causing the problem."
High volumes of capital are not just being generated from Hammersmith and Fulham alone, it has also been documented that in 2016, Kingston obtained £447,892, Hounslow £435,115 and Waltham Forest accumulated a mouth-watering £1.7m in box junction penalty charge notices (PCNs).
Transport for London’s (TfL) director of enforcement and on-street operations Steve Burton, spoke in defence of the box junction execution:
"We enforce traffic regulations on the capital’s red routes, including yellow box junctions, and our overriding focus is to reduce delays, keep road users safe and to keep London moving.
"We continually review the locations where penalty charge notices (PCNs) are issued and are always looking to improve the information provided to our customers at these locations.
"All revenue generated by enforcement activity is reinvested in maintaining and improving the transport network."
Below is a table of some of the London Councils highest yellow box earners:
|Year||Area||Box Junction PCN (£)|
|2015||London Road and Armfield Crescent||£524,830|
|2015-16||Homerton High Street (Hackney)||£1.2million|
|2015-16||Berkeley Street Junction (Piccadilly)||£816,000|
Outer-city councils want control on their roads
With such high value earning potential, it is no wonder councils outside of the capital are actively appealing for the same control over minor road offences as in London.
At the present date, councils outside of London have their minor road offences dealt with by the police, with the exception of bus lanes.
UK Transport Minister Jesse Norman has revealed that the Local Government Association (LGA) and West Midlands mayor Andy Street are part of a select group of those lobbying for the changes to be introduced.
The outer London councils argue that following cuts to the numbers in the police force, motorists have no real deterrent to stop them from committing minor driving offences, and many are getting away unpunished.
They are now rallying for the licence to set up cameras at box junctions, cycle lanes and junctions.
Have box junctions simply become a council’s investment opportunity?
While there are increasing appeals from incensed drivers around the infrastructure of some of London’s most lucrative yellow box junctions, it’s hard to envision change to be forthcoming. Councils would be presenting themselves with what seems to be a conflict of interest, being that the funds received are directly managed by their administrative body.
Until some form of change comes, the councils can expect allegations of the yellow box junction solely being a ploy to fleece the average commuter to continue.