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Bus Rapid Transit

Jim Brennan on Bus Cam Rejection: NYC “Irrationally Expanding” Bus Lanes

Thanks to reader Geck for sending along this email from Brooklyn Assembly member Jim Brennan, who was replying to a question about the rejection of bus lane cameras in the Assembly's draft budget. The district that Brennan represents doesn't include any bus lanes, existing or proposed. That didn't stop him from offering this excuse:

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There are a variety of concerns with the proposal you write about. The Legislature has tended to consider many New York City specific traffic control measures outside of the budget process. Last year, for instance, we authorized an increase in red light cameras but the matter was considered separately. Usually we focus on New York City specific measures toward the end of the session but prior to the beginning of the New York City fiscal year which begins
on July 1.

One concern is that the proposal would cost the MTA $4 million for
installing the cameras but all the revenue would go to the City of New
York. The MTA does not benefit from the proposal. Another is that the
New York City Department of Transportation is irrationally expanding the
number of bus lanes in the City and creating excessive restrictions on
vehicles. Motorists would be overly penalized under such circumstances
from the use of these cameras.

I share you interest in the use of these devices to enable buses to move
more rapidly but these concerns need to be addressed. Thanks for writing.

Yours truly,
Jim Brennan
Member of Assembly

Brennan must not be aware that New York City's 2.7 million daily bus riders currently endure the slowest average bus speeds in the nation. Nor that many routes in line for camera enforcement have been around for years. The handful of streets selected for new bus lanes were singled out for good reason. Select Bus Service on Brooklyn's B44 corridor would help tens of thousands of riders who currently have to put up with the most unreliable bus route in the city. SBS on First and Second Avenues would serve one of the densest areas of the city and improve speeds on the bus route with the highest ridership in America. It will enhance service mainly on existing bus lanes that lack adequate enforcement.

As for those concerns about cost, a bus lane enforcement program with 40 cameras is projected to provide a net revenue gain of about half a million dollars each year, according to NYCDOT. The cost of installing and operating the program would come to $2.4 million annually, with the city handling adjudication and administration.

It should be pretty obvious that these figures are trivial compared to factors that actually shape the MTA budget, like the state's theft of $118 million in dedicated transit taxes. But if the Assembly is concerned about where the revenue goes, why not amend the budget proposal, instead of completely rejecting a critical transit enhancement that stands to benefit millions?

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