According to the coalition, the last remaining hurdle to be resolved this year is in the hands of Albany lawmakers: amending New York’s traffic laws to allow the MTA to install bus-mounted cameras to catch violators illegally parking or driving in bus lanes.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A coalition composed of bus riders, borough elected officials, and transit advocates rallied on Thursday in Flushing to call on State legislators to authorize the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City Department of Transportation to automate the enforcement of bus lanes citywide, keeping dedicated arteries clear so mass transit commuters can get where they’re going on congested NYC streets.
The MTA and DOT have already committed to making major bus improvements. However, according to the coalition, the last remaining hurdle to be resolved this year is in the hands of Albany lawmakers: amending New York’s traffic laws to allow the MTA to install bus-mounted cameras to catch violators illegally parking or driving in bus lanes.
The State legislative session ends next month.
“When bus lanes are enforced, buses travel as much as 17-percent faster, meaning hundreds of thousands of bus riders will get where they’re going—whether work, school, or important appointments—on time,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Nick Sifuentes. “The Legislature should permit camera enforcement of bus lanes as a fair, effective way to discourage illegal parking and driving in bus lanes and encourage more reliable bus service for everyone.”
In March, MTA New York City Transit plans to install an automated mobile camera system on buses to capture real-time bus lane violations as the agency and DOT step up combined enforcement efforts to increase bus speeds and keep traffic moving on clogged roads in the five boroughs.
According to NYC Transit, the Automated Bus Lane Enforcement system captures the license plate information, photos and videos, as well as location and timestamp information, of vehicles obstructing bus lanes to document clear cases of bus lane violation. The system collects multiple pieces of evidence to ensure that vehicles making permitted turns from bus lanes are not ticketed. This information is transmitted to DOT for review and processing. The automated bus lane enforcement program will be administered in partnership with DOT and the City Department of Finance.
Transit officials also noted in March that NYCT will install an ABLE system on 123 new buses that will be delivered from 2019 to early 2020 and serve some Select Bus Service routes in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The system will be used for a pilot program to evaluate the efficacy of automated enforcement of bus lanes and its effect on bus speeds and travel times. According to the agency, the pilot is a result of a successful NYC Transit proof-of-concept test that determined an ABLE system could capture sufficient evidence to enforce bus lane traffic violations. The pilot results will inform NYC Transit’s plans to expand the ABLE program.
And in his State of the City address in January, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that to speed up buses citywide seven new Police Department teams will be towing cars parked in bus lanes as part of NYC’s “Better Buses for All” initiative.
“Bus speeds in NYC rank the slowest, so it is critical that we push for service enhancements that will have a significant impact on the way transit riders experience public transit,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) said on Thursday.