THE number of drivers issued with fines for breaching the rules of a York city-centre bridge’s traffic trial now tops 40,000.

City of York Council’s figures for December show 6,233 penalty charge notices (PCNs) were sent to the owners of private vehicles who used Lendal Bridge between 10.30am and 5pm, as the controversial experiment reached the four-month point.

It brings the total number of £60 fines issued since the six-month trial began on August 27 to 40,794.

The December update shows slightly increased journey times for two of York’s Park&Ride services heading out of the city-centre, compared with December 2012, and Park&Ride buses heading to York Designer Outlet taking more than three minutes longer.

However, the assessment said journey times for four out of five Park&Ride services travelling into the city fell year on year in December, with “significant” time reductions both ways on the Rawcliffe Bar route.

It claimed Christmas traffic and new lights at the A64 Fulford Interchange were the chief cause of the delays on the outbound Designer Outlet service.

The trial runs until February 27, after which its impact will be studied.

The Labour-led council says it will speed up bus journeys, cut pollution and encourage more people to walk, cycle or use public transport, but critics claim fines issued to visitors will turn people away from York and city-centre businesses are being damaged, with congestion being caused elsewhere in York. The latest PCN figures run from December 2 to 29.

Year-on-year traffic figures showed more motorists using the Outer Ring Road in December - reversing the trend from previous months - and an average of 162 more vehicles using Clifton Bridge every hour.

There were annual increases in traffic levels on Foss Islands Road, Tadcaster Road and Shipton Road, with volumes falling on Fulford Road, Hull Road, Boroughbridge Road and Malton Road. Leeman Road’s hourly traffic level rose compared to July, when counters were installed.

Studying the Clifton Bridge and Foss Islands Road figures, the report said: “The off-peak period is busier than during an average month, which may be expected in the run-up to Christmas”.

It also said traffic increases on Foss Islands Road were “far less than during previous months.”