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Bus Rapid Transit

MTA Touts Bus Lane Cameras in PR Blitz

11:21 AM EST on November 11, 2010

The MTA is advertising that camera enforcement is live on Select Bus Service routes on NY1.com.
The MTA is advertising that camera enforcement is live on Select Bus Service routes on NY1.com.

After a long legislative battle, the MTA wants you to know about the automated enforcement that will be keeping Select Bus Service lanes clear of traffic.

"Good News," trumpets an e-mail blast sent out by the MTA yesterday. "New York City and the MTA have teamed up to use cameras to strictly enforce designated bus-only lanes and help speed trips for bus riders." The message went out to what appears to be a broad e-mail list; at least one recipient we spoke with doesn't recall having ever received other e-mails from the MTA.

The MTA is also advertising online. "Riding the bus costs $2.25," reads a banner ad spotted at the top of the NY1 website. "Driving in the bus lane costs $115. Bus lanes will now be camera-enforced." Both the e-mail and the ad send you to this page on the MTA's website, which concisely explains the need for bus lane enforcement and Select Bus Service more broadly.

You can imagine that the MTA and NYC DOT are excited to finally be able to have this important enforcement tool at their disposal. Bus riders and transit advocates also have reason to celebrate. Camera enforcement has been a long time coming. Two years ago, legislation to authorize the MTA to use bus lane cameras was smothered in the Assembly Transportation Committee. The Assembly allowed bus cams to pass this year in what was reportedly a deal with the MTA, when the transit agency folded on its request for state support for student MetroCards.

Though the state legislature okayed the use of cameras to enforce SBS lanes in June, enforcement wasn't slated to start until this month. The timing was designed to give drivers on First and Second Avenue a short grace period to get used to the new bus lanes on those streets.

In London, a similar automated enforcement system is credited with improving bus speeds 12.6 percent. We'll be checking in with the MTA and the city DOT to see how effective the cameras turn out to be.

Update: This post originally indicated that camera enforcement is live on Select Bus Service routes. We have since received conflicting reports and are looking to confirm that the automated enforcement is up and running.

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