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Bus Week

NYPD Christens New Busway with Livingston Street Tow-A-Palooza

The launch of New York City's newest busway was heralded Tuesday by the mid-afternoon arrival of NYPD tow trucks.

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman|

One illegally parked car on the Livingston Street busway belonged to the MTA — and was towed.

It's Bus Week! To read the whole series, click here.

Welcome to the latest installment in Streetsblog's annual "Bus Week," where we explore why New York City buses are so horrible and what Mayor Adams is or is not doing. Today, we'll look at what happened when the DOT created a busway in the placard zone of Downtown Brooklyn. For prior "Bus Week" coverage, click here.

They towed you so!

The launch of New York City's new busway on Livingston Street was heralded on Tuesday by the mid-afternoon arrival of NYPD tow trucks to clear the red-painted lanes of vehicular obstructions — including at least one bus-lane-blocking car parked that belonged to the MTA itself.

No less than three tow rigs came out in force to ticket bus lane violators as Streetsblog arrived on the carnival scene around 3 p.m. Several cars were towed, but more drivers fled when they saw the flashing lights of the trucks, indicating that the Thin Blue Line was prepared to defend the thick red lane.

“I can’t believe it,” yelped one witness. “I never saw an MTA car get towed away no matter how it’s parked!”

The car had a sticker on it claiming it is not subject to ticketing, but the ploy failed to work. (It rarely does; the car has received 12 camera-issued tickets, according to city stats.)

The MTA car had this sticker where its registration should have been.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Streetsblog's visit to the downtown Brooklyn strip came hours after photos of dozens of illegally parked cars in the bus's right-of-way circulated on social media — flouting New York City Transit President Rich Davey's plea to transit workers to follow the new regulations.

The internal memo obtained by Streetsblog did not raise the possibility of any penalties for bus lane violators other than the threat of tickets from the NYPD.

That police enforcement was nowhere to be found early in the day, however, but it showed up in force later. Davey was pleased.

"We appreciate the NYPD ensuring the new busway was clear in time for PM rush hour," Davey said in a statement. "There’s no excuse for delaying New Yorkers or making bus operators drive into the opposite lane of traffic to get around illegally parked cars. It’s simple: if you’re not a bus, get the heck out of that busway."

The new busway converts Livingston between Hoyt Street and Flatbush Avenue to one-way-only for private cars and trucks, with a lane of westbound traffic next to red-painted bus lanes in both directions.

The south side of that block of Livingston is especially crucial to the busway operation because eastbound traffic must make a left turn off the roadway at Gallatin Place — where a fresh “Do Not Enter” sign had been posted. Numerous cars ignored the sign and, because the bus lane was filled with parked cars, drove in the westbound bus lane.

Illegally parked cars filled the Livingston Street busway on the first day on Tuesday, forcing drivers into oncoming traffic.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Meanwhile, west of Smith Street, both lanes of the busway were full of parked cars — some of them belonging to NYC Transit employees who likely work in the agency’s headquarters on the south side of that block.

In the north side “No standing” zone, Streetsblog spotted one car with a seemingly fake “temporary MTA parking permit,” and an orange worker’s vest on the dashboard, plus two more cars similarly attired.

Illegally parked cars filled the Livingston Street busway on the first day on Tuesday.

There was also a car with a placard from the NYPD’s 32nd Precinct, which is miles away in Upper Manhattan. The driver of that car been nabbed nine times for speeding and running red lights, city stats show.

One illegally parked car had two men sleeping in it:

Two guys slept in an llegally parked car on the Livingston Street busway on the first day on Tuesday.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Another car bore illegal window tints and a fake Indiana plate. Another driver yelled at Streetsblog for taking a picture of his car after he hastily removed the defaced plate on the back.

“Stop taking pictures of my car!” he yelled, using an NYPD business card to cover his registration from our camera.

“Stop parking in a bus lane and I’ll stop taking your picture,” the Streetsblog reporter said.

A security guard from the Board of Education came over during the mild fracas to say that the NYPD had been aggressively ticketing illegal parkers. (The south side of the block was completely filled with parked cars.)

But some city workers obviously heeded the MTA and NYPD warnings to stay out of the busway.

How do we know? The bike lane on nearby Hoyt Street between Schermerhorn Street and Atlantic Avenue was filled with illegally parked city cars:

So many illegally parked cars filled the Livingston Street busway on the first day on Tuesday that many city vehicle drivers spilled into the bike lane on Hoyt Street.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

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