Next Stop for Bill to Expand Bus Lane Cameras: Andrew Cuomo’s Desk

Last night, the State Senate followed the Assembly’s lead and passed a bill to continue New York City’s bus lane camera enforcement program and expand it to an additional 10 bus routes. The bill now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

34th Street before bus lane cams. Video still: Streetfilms/Robin Urban Smith

The Senate voted 48 in favor and 11 opposed. The day before, the bill squeaked through the Assembly, 79-60, with former speaker Sheldon Silver joining Staten Island legislators in calling bus lane cameras “a trap for motorists.”

The existing program was enacted by Albany in 2010 and limited the cameras to six Select Bus Service routes. Without an extension it will expire September 20. The new bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and State Senator Martin Golden, not only extends the program five years but also allows the city to choose 10 additional bus routes for camera enforcement.

Camera-enforced bus lanes have boosted local bus speeds on 125th Street by up to 20 percent, according to DOT.

Some of New York’s most important bus lanes predate Select Bus Service and aren’t allowed to have camera enforcement under the current law. The Fifth Avenue bus lane, for instance, was implemented in the 1980s. It carries 90 buses per hour during the morning rush and moves 78,000 people daily, according to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The number of Select Bus Service routes has also grown beyond the limits of the current program. SBS on Webster Avenue in the Bronx operates without camera enforcement, and planned SBS routes on Utica Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, and along the Q44 route in Flushing and Jamaica will only be eligible for bus lane cameras if Cuomo signs the new bill.

Although the bill would eliminate the weekend prohibition on bus lane cams, it would retain the restriction that allows them only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Most, but not all, of the city’s bus lanes are not in effect outside those hours.) The fine would stay at $115.

The legislation allows cameras to be mounted on buses and at stationary locations, Rozic said before the Assembly vote, but DOT and the MTA have phased out bus-mounted devices in favor of cameras atop street poles.

“This is good news for bus riders, and will ensure we can continue expanding faster bus service citywide. We look forward to seeing it signed by the governor,” said de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell.

Cuomo’s office says it is still reviewing the bill.

  • Kevin Love

    Why only five more years? We’ve had the trial. Time to make it permanent.

  • So they can hold it over the city’s head again in 5 years.

  • AnoNYC

    Didn’t know that the MTA and DOT preferred stationary rather than bus-mounted cameras. I think this is a good thing, much more intimidating and definitely makes you want to stay out of the bus lane.

    Good to see that this bill also introduced weekend camera enforcement. Hopefully the next bill will allow for 24/7 implementation.

    More importantly however, where are the additional proposed SBS routes? I thought that several would be established per year at this point? So many routes could use SBS implementation.

  • mrtuffguy

    What could go wrong?

  • red_greenlight1

    Nothing absolutely nothing. Cuomo has shown to be reasonable and will doubtlessly sign it quickly.

  • WoodyinNYC

    Well, it doesn’t remove any parking places, so he might let it thru.

  • WoodyinNYC

    Salami slicing our way to progress. Don’t go for the whole banana. LOL.

    For the drivers opposed to it the politicians can say, “Well, it’s experiential, only 5 years, and if it doesn’t work out …

    To the rest of they’ll say, “We made a big step, more than doubling the coverage. We’ll take another look after more SBS routes are actually implemented …

    Much worse has happened. This seems pretty good progress considering who we working with in Albany.

  • Fakey McFakename

    I’m not sure the Bill has been validly passed. According to the legislative website, it was “returned to the assembly” after the Senate passed it, but I don’t see any sign that the Assembly concurred in the Senate amendments. Am I wrong?

  • Fakey McFakename

    Or were there no amendments in the Senate?

  • HamTech87

    Something I run into occasionally:
    Cameras inside buses filming people’s faces? Sure.
    Cameras outside buses taking pictures of license plates? No way!

    http://www.mta.info/news/2012/03/27/safety-first-mta-adding-more-onboard-bus-video-surveillance-cameras

  • Ken

    Wouldn’t assigning some cops to ticket offenders be cost effective for the city? At $115 per ticket that could more than pay salaries and would have the added benefit of allowing points on the driver’s license, something that camera enforcement in NYC never does. Same for red lights; ticketing would pay salaries and make the streets safer. What is keeping NYPD from doing this?

  • Bolwerk

    They don’t want, and we’re not supposed to tell them what to do. It’s not like they’re supposed to serve us or anything. We’re animals.

  • Gepap

    Yes.

    The house that passes a bill first gets control of the bill. Since the Assembly passed the bill first, it is they that must deliver it to the Governor. For them to do that, the Senate has to give it back, which explains the “Returned to Assembly”. The next step would be delivery to the governor, which will show up in the list of Assembly actions.

  • Danny Delacruz

    What can motorist do when stopping to drop off a passenger or pick one up on Jamaica ave? Do you drop your children in the middle of the street where a bus can hit them in the right lane or oncoming traffic can hit them in the left? The bus lane extends without breaks in Jamaica for about 3 miles… What can you do?

    I think if your sitting at a bus stop a officer can tell the difference, but a camera can’t tell when your dropping off pas angers ….

  • Ken

    Stopping to drop off a passenger is not what’s being discussed here; it’s perfectly legal to do that:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/downloads/pdf/buslane_enforcement_brochure.pdf

    If possible, arrange your pick up or drop off where there isn’t a bus lane —across the street, or on the side street, for example. However, you may stop in the bus lane for the time it takes for a passenger standing at the curb to enter or a passenger to exit the vehicle and get onto the sidewalk.

    Maybe bus lane cameras will take video rather than still photos; that could help differentiate the two cases. But I agree that camera enforcement is not as good as having a real cop on the job.

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