Cuomo Signs Bill Allowing NYC to Expand Bus Lane Camera Program

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Saturday that will speed up bus trips by expanding the number of bus lanes where the city can deploy camera enforcement. The law now enables New York City to use cameras to keep car drivers out of exclusive bus lanes on up to 16 routes, an increase from just six today.

34th Street before cameras were added. Video still: Robin Urban Smith/Streetfilms
34th Street before cameras were added. Video still: Robin Urban Smith/Streetfilms

Under the bill, which passed the Senate and the Assembly in June, the city can choose the 10 additional bus routes that will receive camera enforcement. That’s a change from the state legislation that first authorized bus lane cameras in 2010, which spelled out which routes could get cameras.

The city and the MTA have expanded Select Bus Service — the enhanced routes that usually include dedicated transit lanes — beyond the limitations of the previous bus lane camera legislation. As a result, bus lanes on Webster Avenue operate without camera enforcement. Absent this new legislation, planned bus lanes on Utica Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, and along the Q44 in Flushing and Jamaica would have also gone without cameras.

The new legislation allows the city to install cameras on non-SBS bus lanes, like on Fifth Avenue and Fulton Street, as well. It also enables the city to operate the cameras on weekends, but continues to limit camera enforcement to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., when most bus lanes are in effect. The fine would stay at $115.

While the law is a very basic step to ensure the city’s bus lanes can operate as intended, there was some doubt as to whether Governor Cuomo would go along with a de Blasio administration legislative priority. In a statement, however, the governor enthusiastically endorsed the bus lane camera expansion.

“This is a vitally important program used by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “I’m proud to sign this legislation that not only continues this very successful program to provide quicker and more reliable bus service throughout the City, but also expands it.”

The bill faced opposition from Assembly Republicans and former Speaker Sheldon Silver. Ultimately, it passed 79-60, before clearing the Senate, 48-11. The bill took effect as soon as Cuomo signed it on Saturday, allowing the city to add bus lane cameras immediately.

“In signing this bill into law we can ensure the effectiveness of the City’s Bus Rapid Transit program that services thousands of riders, particularly from outer boroughs,” said Assembly Member Nily Rozic, who sponsored the legislation. “I thank the Governor for supporting a measure that will improve the way New Yorkers experience mass transit.”

“We’ve fought hard to extend and expand this important program, so we can continue improving bus commutes for straphangers. This is going to be essential as we bring Bus Rapid Transit to corridors like Woodhaven Boulevard,” said de Blasio administration spokesperson Wiley Norvell. “We appreciate the work of our state colleagues, especially our legislative leaders and bill sponsors Assembly Member Rozic and State Senator Golden, for securing this legislation.”

  • Bernard Finucane

    Micromanage much?

  • Matthias

    Great news–drivers seem to have gotten used to the red bus lanes and become comfortable blocking them. Glad to see that Cuomo isn’t opposed to everything that’s good for the city.

  • Andrew

    OK, it’s better than nothing. But, remind me, why does the city need to beg the state for this sort of permission? Why aren’t the city and MTA permitted to pursue camera enforcement of any or all bus lanes and bus stops across the city?

  • multimodal

    Because we went broke in the 70s.

  • Drivin’ Here!

    Because officials in NYC, some of whom don’t drive, wouldn’t understand the pressing daily needs of motorists who are always late to work every single day because of traffic. We need the objective input of officials as far as Fredonia, NY who may have never visited NYC and can offer us a fresh perspective. Also, they all depend on revenue from NYC, so why shouldn’t they have a say?

  • AnoNYC

    Are new camera enforced bus routes going to utilize overhead camera enforcement rather then bus mounted?

  • walks bikes drives

    If they put cameras on the Fifth Ave bus lane, what will NYPD do with the patrol car they park in it, right in front of the Met, every day? What would rush hour be like if the buses didn’t have to go around it?

    Honestly, I like it there – it pushes the buses into the regular lanes from 86 to 79th, so it gives me a straight shot on my bike since I can fit down past it, as I am not some big bus. But I am one little me, there must be at least 20,000 bus riders going down Fifth Ave every day, between the M1,2,3,4 and express buses. Thanks, NYPD, for looking out for the little guy!

  • Alexander Vucelic

    they perforn a similar courtesy on 2nd above 42nd blocking the left turn lane, which helps me navigate more safely against left hooks.

    sometimes, they are even nice enough to park 2-3 prowl cars in the left turn lane.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Because states make the big decisions on the margins everywhere in the U.S. in our federal structure.

    The federal government takes in the most money, and the local governments do the most work, but the states have the most power on the margin. And no one pays attention.

    We have state representatives too. Or at least we ought to. In reality they represent people in Florida, the suburbs, those dead, and some small cabals or insiders.

  • Andrew

    But terrorism! Or hard working New Yorkers! Or something like that.

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