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

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