City Council Says “Yes” to Car-Free Bus Lanes. Now It’s Up to Albany.

State Assembly Transportation Committee to Decide Today Whether Bill Will Receive Floor Vote

On Thursday, the New York City Council voted 40-7 to approve a home rule message enabling state lawmakers to enact bus lane enforcement legislation. The bill would permit the use of bus-mounted cameras to deter
cars from using bus-only lanes. It now moves to Albany, where it has already been introduced in both the State Assembly and Senate. The City Council also voted in favor of a measure that would make it easier to enforce restrictions on blocking the box, which is likewise now in Albany’s hands.

With the Assembly set to adjourn on June 23rd, and the transportation committee meeting today to discuss the bus camera bill, one more round of calling and reaching out to key legislators will help move this legislation forward.

Automated bus lane enforcement is a key step toward implementation of Bus Rapid Transit, especially since physically separated lanes do not figure heavily in the city’s plans. Similar enforcement legislation was first drafted eight years ago, but, lacking support from the governor’s office and high-level MTA management, did not progress this far. The City Council vote indicates that circumstances have changed.

"This is unprecedented," said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives. "City Council is doing the right thing for the millions of bus riders in this city. This is a really good step towards improving mass transit in the short term. For the time being, it’s all about buses."

Council Member Lew Fidler, who voiced support for better traffic enforcement while opposing congestion pricing, said he co-sponsored the bill. The members who voted against were Charles Barron, Erik Martin Dilan, Mathieu Eugene, Darlene Mealy, Diana Reyna, and Kendall Stewart of Brooklyn, and Melinda Katz of Queens.

While the Senate is expected to vote on the bus camera bill soon, a floor vote is not assured in the Assembly, according to Josh Nachowitz of the New York League of Conservation Voters. The Assembly transportation committee, chaired by Rochester Democrat David Gantt, is discussing the bill today and may vote on whether to allow it to come to the full floor. Sponsor Jonathan Bing has officially requested that a committee vote be scheduled, according to Nachowitz, making the bus camera legislation the only bill currently before the committee to receive such a request without yet having it granted. Streetsblog has asked Gantt’s office whether the assemblyman plans to schedule a vote, but has not received a response.

"It would be an utter shame for Albany to end the current legislative session without taking action to improve transit in New York City," said Budnick. "Two-thirds of New Yorkers supported congestion pricing because it would
have improved transit. People still want better transit. That hasn’t
gone away."

  • Larry Littlefield

    To the extent that those who don’t face real elections can be under pressure, the failure to vote on congestion pricing increases the pressure to approve this. But you bet they don’t want to.

    My guess is that they attach criteria that make it impossible to prove a motor vehicle wasn’t in a bus lane to make a turn, jacking up the price of a $110 ticket to $3,000 in court costs. Turn it into a scam, in other words.

  • fdr

    So why are most of the Brooklyn Council Members against it?

  • Good for Lew for supporting this.

  • Change NOW

    As a professional planner, congestion pricing works, silver and bruno have gridlocked albany politics like whiny kindergartners, in order to stop progress at all costs…I hope New York voters remember this, as they cannot even make it to work in the city, and cannot afford gas from the suburbs, yet there is no funding for improved rail transit that would have been in a fund from the congestion pricing….it would have helped everybody…now the city permanently lost $900 million from the federal govt. which California immediately snatched up…this money is shrinking due to recession, it was a once in a lifetime offer and it is now gone, thanks to these bozos….Once again, NY govt. has shown how backwards and paternalistic the NY State government is, thinking they know best for everybody…if 2/3 favor progress, than the same 2/3 can vote these idiots out of office…..

  • Larry Littlefield

    By the way, it looks as the though the state legislature is about to pass legislation blocking the Upper East Side waste transfer station, and refuse to approve legislation allowing the west side recycling transfer station, thus ensuring Manhattan’s trash will continue to be trucked into and out of Brooklyn and the Bronx. This according to a Daily Politics report.

    Of course the political discussion is that this is another instance of “putting Bloomberg in his place.” Funny how the legislature didn’t “put Bloomberg in his place” by refusing to approve the 25/55 pension plan for teachers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Once again, NY govt. has shown how backwards and paternalistic the NY State government is.”

    If NY State Government is “paternalistic,” it is so in a child abuse and child rape kind of way.

  • RAC

    SO WHY ARE THE BROOKLYN COUNCIL MEMBERS AGAINST IT? I don’t know much about this plan. It sounds good but what are the ramifications? Are their any ramifications that we’re going to wish that we had stopped to discuss in a few years?

    I am just wondering what the dissenters said!

  • tb

    “Now it’s up to Albany.” Thant has become a chilling, dispiriting phrase, hasn’t it?

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    You are welcome Josh. I co-sponsored both the camera bill and the block the box bill. AND I spoke on the floor in favor of each. As I did when we were derailing the parking ticket plea bargain bill, I pointed out that once again we were missing an opportunity to discuss global solutions to the issues left unresolved by the [in my view appropriate] defeat of congestion pricing.

    And then Assemblyman Gannt goes out and kills even this, which was a disgrace.

    Finally, how come no one here has posted the bevy of stories about the fact atht Honda is mass producing Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars? Again, some of you told me that they were a flight of fancy and that they were not close to reality. I reiterate, switiching over to zero emission hydrogen fuel cell cars would do more to clean our air, reduce teh cost of food now being pushed for bio fuelds, reduce out dependence on foreign oil, improve our international economic and political position than any one thing we can do….it won’t take cars off our streets, so I don’t want to reignite that debate, but I think I get at least an “I told you so” about the availability of the product.

    NOW , if we can work on an environmentally sound way to mass produce hydrogen and an effective delivery system, we can make gloabal change.

    Missed you guys.

    Busy in budget negotiations

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • “Finally, how come no one here has posted the bevy of stories about the fact atht Honda is mass producing Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars?”

    Editorial focus. This is not Soccer Mom’s Environmental Road Blog, it is about a particular urban vision that the next generation of 3,000 lb personal automobiles has little to do with (other than continuing the menace). Perhaps the Wired Autopia weblog would be more to your interest than Streetsblog? That is their name, I’m not sure how ironic it’s supposed to be. They discuss fuel cell powered vehicles fairly regularly. Actually, in a story from last week about plug-in hybrids, I see:

    “It’s great to see the DOE upping its support of plug-in vehicles and getting the major car companies involved,” Sherry Boschert, vice-president of Plug In America, told Wired.com. “Unfortunately, the $30 is a drop in the bucket compared with funding that DOE blows on less viable and potentially harmful options like hydrogen fuel cell cars and corn-based biofuels.”

    http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/06/feds-scrape-tog.html

    Interesting take. Perhaps you’d like to weigh in there among the 97 comments so far, to defend this technology you have so much enthusiasm for. But the truth is that here, frankly, most people don’t care. Except for the part about “effective delivery system”, which sounds like a publicly financed effort to make the technology useful. I will fight tooth and nail against any massive new subsidy for personal automobile use. Pay for your own hydrogen production and distribution network.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    I love you too Doc.
    I guess clean air is not on your agenda.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Lew, thanks for the bus camera bill. You fought the good fight.

    Re hydrogen cars, it’s important to remember that hydrogen is an energy carrier, not a form of energy. So the energy would have to come from another source. Check out the Wiki on this subject.

    Best wishes…

  • I guess clean air is not on your agenda.

    Willful misrepresentation is not very attractive, Lew. Clean air is higher up on my agenda than continuance of the automobile lifestyle, a point we don’t have in common.

    Mark, he has had this explained to him a dozen times now, but every time we start from zero. Hydrogen is free until pointed out otherwise, after that it’s just going to be very easy to create from wind power and ocean currents. No matter that we’re woefully unable to serve our current electrical needs in a renewable fashion (because $$$), let’s assume that adding a country’s worth of automobile locomotion to the grid would not result in the removal and burning of coal from beneath every mountaintop in WV. If you don’t believe that free energy is waiting beneath every rainbow, you must not want clean air!

  • “I guess clean air is not on your agenda.”

    Wilful misrepresentation is beneath you, Lew. Reducing air pollution is higher up on my agenda than preservation of the automobile lifestyle, a point I wish we had in common.

    Mark, he doesn’t want to know; he wants to believe. After a dozen patient and well meaning explanations of fuel cell principles, Lew’s back to zero with his presumption of free hydrogen and feigned dismay that Streetsblog does not cover grid-gulping futurecars.

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