Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA
Proposed Legislation Would Make Camera Enforcement Program in Bus Lanes Permanent and Expand Camera Enforcement Beyond Bus Lanes
Over 224,000 Violations Have Been Issued Since Camera Enforcement Implemented on Bus Lanes; Only 5% of Violators Have Committed More Than Two Violations
Commercial Vehicles Most Common Recidivist Violators
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) leaders today stood alongside transit advocates to call on the New York State Legislature to include in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget legislation that would make the Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras program permanent and provide the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) the ability to enforce certain traffic violations that impede bus operations anywhere they travel.
Governor Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget proposal included making ABLE camera enforcement permanent, and would also create a five-year pilot program allowing New York City Transit and NYCDOT to enforce applicable local laws and regulations regarding bus operation related traffic restrictions such as:
- No Standing Zones in bus lanes and at bus stops
- Double parking in bus lanes
- Parking in bus lanes and at bus stops
- Turning in bus lanes
The New York State Senate included a similar version of the Governor’s proposal in their one-house budget released last week. Similar legislation to expand the use of camera enforcement was also proposed in 2022 and 2023 by State Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Alicia L. Hyndman.
Through February 2023, 224,000 violations have been issued since the camera enforcement program began, generating $11 million in revenue. Commercial vehicles have been the most common recidivists, with 86% of violators committing one violation. Only 5% of violators have committed more than two violations.
The M15-SBS route was one of the first bus routes to implement ABLE cameras, with the cameras being installed in October 2019. Today, the M15-SBS the fastest route that travels entirely on local Manhattan streets features an all-day average speed of 7.9 mph, which is much higher than the borough-wide average of 6.1 mph. Collisions on the route have gone down 34% since implementation.
“While larger initiatives like congestion pricing will truly help speed up buses throughout the city, camera enforcement is a tool at our disposal right now that has proven to be effective,” said New York City Transit President Richard Davey. “I applaud elected leaders for proposing legislation that would expand camera enforcement beyond the bus lane, allowing us to speed up buses now, so that New Yorkers who rely on the bus can get where they need to go faster.”
“Vehicles being parked in bus lanes defeats the purpose of the bus lane. That is why we need consistent enforcement to ensure faster trips,” said New York City Transit Department of Buses Senior Vice President Frank Annicaro. “The deployment of ABLE cameras has been instrumental in helping the MTA deliver better bus service on bus lanes — expanding this enforcement citywide will have a significant impact on improving bus speeds throughout the system.”
“Parking in the bus lane not only slows down buses, it impedes a customer’s ability to board the bus,” said MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo. “Double-parked cars, or vehicles blocking buses, are an issue that extends beyond the bus lanes. Expanding a camera enforcement is a quick solution that we have seen effective.”
“The quickest way to increase customer satisfaction is speeding up commutes, and camera enforcement is one of the most effective ways to do that,” said MTA Acting Chief Customer Officer Shanifah Rieara. “In our February Pulse survey, travel time satisfaction on buses reached around 73 percent. If we can expand camera enforcement to speed up buses even further, it will mean more satisfied customers, making buses an attractive option for navigating the city.”
“Automated bus lane enforcement changes driver behavior, with just 8% of violators receiving three or more tickets for blocking bus lanes. Legislation in Albany would allow us to expand the use of this proven tool so that we can use cameras to enforce double-parking, blocked bus stops, and blocked bike lanes along bus routes,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “Automated enforcement saves lives and speed up our buses, and we thank our partners at the MTA, legislators in Albany, and advocates for their support in expanding its use.”
ABLE cameras are an essential tool to keep bus lanes clear of vehicles and buses on schedule for more consistent and reliable service. Bus enforcement technology was expanded to all five boroughs in 2022, and now cover approximately 50% of bus lane miles across New York City. The MTA and NYCDOT have agreed to expand camera enforcement to cover up to 85% of existing bus lanes by the end of 2023. NYCDOT’s fixed cameras will work in concert with these bus cameras to reduce the number of illegal cars and other vehicles in bus lanes.
Each bus lane corridor has signage indicating the hours that the bus lanes are operable, and warning motorists that the lanes are camera-enforced, as the existing bus lane corridors have. NYCDOT issues warnings to motorists for the first 60 days, in accordance with State law, to ensure drivers are informed about the program before any fines are levied. Drivers who violate these rules during enforcement periods are subject to a summons, with fines beginning at $50 and escalating, for repeat offenders, up to $250.
“A clogged bus lane is as useful as no bus lane at all,” said Open Plans Chief Strategy Officer Sara Lind. “New York City must leverage camera-based enforcement to send drivers a message that parking or driving in the bus lane is not an option. Until we get serious about enforcement, New York City’s buses will continue to be the slowest in the nation. We urge the state to pass this bill quickly.”
“Over a million New Yorkers rely on buses every day, yet our bus system is the slowest in the nation due to congestion and traffic,” said MTA Board Member and Chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council Andrew Albert and Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC) Lisa Daglian. “Bus lanes are key and essential improvements, but cars and trucks need to keep out of the way so riders can reliably get where they need to go. ABLE has already demonstrated its ability to help the MTA maintain better bus service by automating enforcement of cars and trucks illegally driving or stopping in bus lanes—last year, 86% of ticketed bus lane blockers didn’t reoffend. We thank the Governor and State Senate for including ABLE in their budget proposals and hope the State Assembly will follow suit.”
“Automated enforcement of bus priority on busy streets is essential to delivering faster service for the city’s more than one million riders,” said Riders Alliance Deputy Director Caitlin Pearce. “Making automated enforcement permanent and deploying cameras to speed up buses beyond the bus lane is a major advance for equity and safety on our streets. Riders are grateful to Governor Hochul and the Senate for leading on this issue; we strongly urge the Assembly to get on the same bus and negotiate a budget that delivers faster service this year.”
“Their proposed budgets as we know it is a key tool needed to improve service for millions of New Yorkers who take the bus each day,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign Director of Climate and Equity Policy Jaqi Cohen. “Our city’s buses are the slowest in the nation, largely because of worsening congestion and blocked bus lanes. Expanding ABLE and making the program permanent will help to speed up buses and improve reliability for riders while also making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a win-win. Passing ABLE in this year’s budget will make a real, immediate difference in the lives of those who depend on public transportation every day.”
“Thousands and thousands of bus passengers have their trips delayed every day in New York City because a driver ‘is just running in for a minute,’ leaving their car parked in a bus stop for their own convenience with little fear of a ticket,” said StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure. “Even worse, people with limited mobility are often prevented from even being able to board when a bus can’t access the curb. Automated bus lane enforcement has helped speed up service in designated bus lanes, and data shows that drivers who receive a ticket learn their lesson and rarely block a bus lane again. Including ABLE in the state budget will improve service for millions of bus riders, and we urge the Assembly to join the Governor and State Senate in supporting this crucial technology.”
“Bus lanes are for buses, not for double-parked cars and extra congestion. Expanding automated bus lane enforcement will speed up buses for millions of New Yorkers, enabling faster, more reliable trips,” said Senior Director of Advocacy & Organizing at Transportation Alternatives Elizabeth Adams. “We urge the state legislature to pass automated bus lane enforcement in this year’s budget and give New Yorkers the buses they need.”
“New Yorkers know how frustrating it is to be on a bus that’s stuck behind double parked cars. Dedicated bus lanes help solve this problem — but only if other drivers respect them,” said NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Program Director Megan Ahearn. “We know camera enforcement works to keep the bus lanes clear, so we’re glad to see ABLE included in the Executive and Senate budget proposals. Now it’s time for the Assembly to get on board with automated bus lane enforcement for faster and more reliable buses.”
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