Will the Governor Who Never Rides the Bus Sign NYC’s Bus Lane Camera Bill?

Governor Andrew Cuomo definitely hasn’t taken an MTA bus “since he first assumed office in 2011,” Gothamist reported yesterday, and it’s probably been much longer than that. So will the governor who never rides the bus sign the bill to expand camera enforcement of New York City’s growing bus lane network?

Cuomo gets off a bus in Havana. Photo: Governor's Office/Flickr
Cuomo gets off a bus… in Havana. Photo: Governor’s Office/Flickr

“If Governor Cuomo actually rode the bus like the two million New Yorkers who do it daily, he’d see how much we need improved bus service,” Nick Sifuentes of the Riders Alliance told Gothamist.

Specifically, if Cuomo saw first-hand what the millions of daily NYC bus passengers put up with, he might warm to the bill to expand bus lane cameras, which has awaited his signature since it passed the legislature two months ago.

The bill would bring automated bus lane enforcement to 10 additional bus routes, on top of the six already approved by Albany. Keeping double-parked drivers and shortcut-seekers out of the red bus lanes will make trips faster for transit riders.

The performance boost is sorely needed, with bus ridership stagnating even as subway ridership has boomed.

After the legislature passed the bus lane enforcement bill in June, the Cuomo administration told Streetsblog that it is reviewing the bill. That position hasn’t changed.

Here’s a photo-op proposition for Team Cuomo: Have the governor sign the bill before hopping on an MTA bus — say, along Woodhaven Boulevard, where tens of thousands of daily riders stand to benefit from the new cameras.

  • Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr.

    As of right now, he have other major transportation obligations that matters to him most such as: 1) replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge with a pair of cable bridges; 2) Renovating LaGuardia Airport; and 3) Demanded NYC to pay its fair share to the 2015-2019 MTA Capital Plan, despite that he “found” at least $8 billion out of thin air (which I do not know where does the money comes from). To him, this bill cannot be signed immediately because it is a minor issue to him and the rest of NYS, right at this moment. ????

  • davistrain

    What? An official of his stature ride the bus? Everyone knows “buses are for poor people.”

  • This post is the first I’ve heard about the state of bus lane camera enforcement in New York, but legislating it by route seems silly and unsustainably arduous.

    San Francisco legislated a citywide pilot program in 2007 that allows cameras to enforce only parking violations in transit-only lanes. The state legislature is now considering a bill that would make the program permanent and expand its authority to also ticket drivers cruising in them: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2015/03/30/chiu-bill-would-let-muni-cameras-ticket-drivers-cruising-in-transit-lanes/

  • Joe Enoch

    I can almost guarantee the only bus Cuomo has ever ridden is a campaign bus. Now that I think about, I’m surprised he doesn’t campaign in a caravan of limos.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not sure I buy that meme fits in NYC. We never had the bus stigma LA has – and I hear it’s fading there.

    The political class here almost doesn’t do transit at all, except for photo ops.

  • Flakker

    Jarrett Walker made the case that bus stigma was not particular to or ever real in LA:

    “All of this came to mind in reading Amanda Hess’s recent Atlantic Cities article, “Race, Class and the Stigma of Riding the Bus in America.”
    Hess argues that the predominance of minority and low-income people on
    the bus is evidence of an American bus “stigma.” “In Los Angeles,” she
    writes, “92 percent of bus riders are people of color. Their annual
    median household income is $12,000.”

    The reference to race is a distraction. The service area of the Los
    Angeles MTA is well over 70 percent people of color. What’s more, whites
    are more likely to live in low-density areas with obstructed street
    patterns where effective bus service is impossible. So people of color
    in L.A. may be over 80 percent of the residents for whom the MTA can be
    useful, which means that the number of white bus riders is not far off
    what we should expect.”

    http://www.houstontomorrow.org/commentary/story/jarrett-walker6/

  • Mark Walker

    An op-ed in today’s Times suggests that the state’s power over the city in this and other issues is an antiquated vestige of times when city government was more corrupt than it is now. He suggests that a solution may begin with the referendum that automatically occurs every 20 years to determine whether there should be a constitutional convention to amend the state constitution. The byline on the piece might raise an eyebrow. But it does offer a potential solution to the state overriding city initiatives to install more speed cameras.

  • bolwerk

    Well, he may have a point, though I’d still say there was a tendency for non-bus-riders to sneer at bus users in LA, at least until the past decade or so. Customarily these were drivers. LA might be a little odd in that it actually always did have a notable bus mode share even historically.

    Thing is, I don’t know that NYC buses exactly fail to attract significant numbers of whites. Our politicians ignore us, but I’m not sure we’re sneered at.

  • Flakker

    As you say, we’re talking about people who don’t care, period. Do any of them, at the state or city level, ride transit even once a week on average?

  • bolwerk

    I don’t know, but I don’t think that should rule out progressive/expansive transit policies. Politicians love their cars in France, Switzerland, and Germany too. TBF, you have to commend LA for its expansive transit policies. They’ve done amazing work recently.

    New York is just ass backwards when it comes to transportation policy.

  • davistrain

    My comment is a direct quote from 1951. When the Pacific Electric rail service to San Marino (an affluent suburb south of Pasadena) was replaced by buses in Oct. 1951, a businessman who would occasionally drive his car into Los Angeles, but normally took the PE Red Car was seen heading for his garage on Monday morning. His wife commented “You’re taking your car this morning”, “Yes, the PE line quit running.” The wife said, “I saw the article in the paper. They’ll be running buses on Huntington Dr. Couldn’t you take the bus?” “Certainly not! Buses are for poor people!”
    (from a lecture about the rise and fall of Pacific Electric by Dr. William A. Myers.)

  • davistrain

    From April 1963 to June 1990, the transit mode share for the Los Angeles metro area was Bus: 100%

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