Eyes in the Capitol: Four Seconds of Glory for Bus Cam Bill

This clip from yesterday’s Assembly Transportation Committee meeting doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

If you’re puzzled as to why we’re even showing this, allow me to set the scene: Two years ago, a bill enabling camera enforcement of New York City bus lanes died in this same committee under cloudy circumstances. In a hastily called vote, several sponsors ended up siding against the bill, and no one could really explain why. At least, no one would tell the press anything other than some variation on "the committee chair made me do it." When the Times asked the chair, David Gantt, why the bill failed, he said, "What do you think, I go around breaking people’s arms?" Throughout, Speaker Sheldon Silver got to remain above the fray.

Since then, the State Senate has started recording its committee meetings and posting them online, but not the Assembly. If there was going to be a reprise of 2008, Streetsblog needed to capture it for posterity. So when a bus lane bill reached the Transportation Committee yesterday, our intrepid freelancer Alan Wechsler went to the meeting, camera in hand. This is what he saw: In four seconds, the bus camera bill was introduced, "debated," and reported to the next committee. Wristwatch checking ensues.

You can hear Gantt, seated at the far end of the table, ask for negative votes, then proclaim that the bill is reported. That’s it. No grumbling about motorists’ privacy. The bus cam bill advances to the Codes Committee. A very promising development for New York City bus riders, a win for transit advocates and local legislators, and a head-scratching installment in this Albany storyline.

Video footage shot by Alan Wechsler

  • No surprise, this. The Soviet Politburo was more democratic than Sheldon Silver’s Assembly. Get us some footage of the three men in a room.

  • JK

    Nice piece Ben. Keep giving us more AssemblyCam. Quality high speed sausage making.

    Mark, the Three Men + 2 minority leaders were in another webcast “leaders meeting” today. It was about 15 minutes long, and they covered less ground.

    (A quick shout out to TA, Tri-State and Straphangers for getting a super majority of Assembly Transpo Comm members as bus cam co-sponsors. That’s solid organizing work. It’s why this bill is going to pass and why people should support their advocates as members or contributors.)

  • Thanks JK.

  • pat

    Dude, i know this is a blog, but it would be nice to include a little more information about the bill than just its title. What does it do, exactly? How many cameras are allowed?

  • Scratch your head no longer! The Post has the answer:

    The MTA and state lawmakers are finalizing a bill to save free student MetroCards for the next school year – a deal that could sink the transit agency further into debt.

    Under the agreement, the state will contribute $25 million to the program, the city will give $45 million and the MTA will foot the remaining $144 million, as first reported by The Post.

    In the wheeling and dealing, a cap on MTA borrowing would be lifted so the agency can get on with the first two years of its next big-ticket capital program, along with provisions that would allow enforcement cameras in rapid-bus lanes.

  • pat

    Thanks Cap. I guess what i was asking was: how many cams will be allowedby the new bill. In the past, the legislature has allowed for 50, 100 cameras. Of course, allowing the city to put as many cameras as they thought necessary would be an ideal bill.. but i imagine thats not what this bill did.

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