Yo, NYPD, You Call This a Bus Lane Enforcement Effort?

A blocked bus lane on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. (Full disclosure: this is file art.) Photo: Ben Fried
A blocked bus lane on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. (Full disclosure: this is file art.) Photo: Ben Fried

A much-ballyhooed “clear bus lanes” enforcement crackdown by the NYPD wasn’t much of a crackdown at all.

As Streetsblog reported last week, the MTA and NYPD said cops would undertake a “citywide traffic initiative focused on the enforcement of all bus lane violations on all tours beginning on Nov. 12 and ending on Nov. 18. Officers will enforce moving and parking violations at all bus stops and bus lanes.”

So how did it go? Police spokesman Lt. John Grimpel released the following stats to Streetsblog:

 

Tickets during the so-called blitz (Nov. 12-18, 2018):

  • Bus lane moving summons: 431
  • Bus lane parking summons: 1,372
  • Bus stop parking summons: 7,824
  • Total: 9,627

Tickets during the same week last year (Nov. 12-18, 2017):

  • Bus lane moving summons: 86
  • Bus lane parking summons:  523
  • Bus stop parking summons: 6,524
  • Total: 7,133

Do the math: a citywide enforcement effort — across all 77 NYPD precincts and along every single bus line — yielded just 345 more moving violations, 849 bus lane parking violations and just 1,300 parking tickets for drivers who put their cars in bus stops.

The NYPD declined repeated requests by Streetsblog to characterize the success or limitations of the effort.

Advocates were pleased that the issue is on the NYPD radar screen, but unimpressed that it’s not a big flashing red light on said screen.

“We think the shift to more bus lane enforcement is heartening and likely benefits the high ridership routes that use them [but] in the big picture, we need much more frequent blitzes like this to exert any kind of abiding deterrent against people who block bus facilities with their cars,” said Jon Orcutt, executive director of Transit Center. “The ultimate measure of success is whether bus service improves, not numbers of summonses.”

The MTA has not yet responded to that question yet. When it does, we will update this story.

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