New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said its 60-day warning period for bus lane blockers on the M15 Select Bus Service route has now ended and motorists who are caught by the MTA’s new bus-mounted cameras will now receive violations with fines up to $250.
The forward-facing cameras on buses serving the M15 SBS route on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan were implemented on Oct. 7. State legislation mandated a 60-day grace period before violators are fined for standing or parking in the bus lanes. Since camera enforcement on the M15 began, there have been improvements in bus speeds on First and Second Avenues, with increases of up to 34% in some segments. The primary indicator of bus reliability, Wait Assessment, is at 76.7% on the route — the highest it’s been for the past 15 months.
Enforced bus lanes are key to improving bus service, and to heighten awareness of their use, NYC Transit is launching an awareness campaign targeted to motorists. The new campaign features “Are you a bus?” posters noting that “Bus lanes are for buses,” which will be posted on the backs of the buses equipped with ABLE camera systems. The posters will be installed on those buses this month, and the campaign will continue as NYC Transit expands the ABLE program. NYC Transit is working with the NYC DOT to implement transit priority across the city, including the recently announced City commitment to 50 miles of protected bus lanes annually for the next five years.
NYC Transit is currently using the Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) system on buses serving the three popular routes. The B44 SBS travels on approximately 10 miles of dedicated bus lanes through Brooklyn, while the M14 SBS uses bus lanes on 14th Street as well as NYC DOT’s Truck and Transit Priority lanes. Motorists who remain in a bus lane without exiting at the first possible right turn, or are captured as blocking the bus lane at the same location by two successive buses, are considered to be violating traffic laws and will be ticketed.
The ABLE camera systems capture evidence such as license plate information, photos, and videos, as well as location and timestamp information, of vehicles obstructing bus lanes to document clear cases of bus lane violation. The system collects multiple pieces of evidence to ensure that vehicles making permitted turns from bus lanes are not ticketed. The information is transmitted to NYC DOT for review and processing, and the program is administered in partnership with NYC DOT and the NYC Department of Finance. Beginning Dec. 6, motorists who are caught by the bus-mounting cameras blocking bus lanes on First and Second Avenues will be subject to a fine of $50 for the first violation. For additional violations within a 12-month period, fines are $100 for a second offense, $150 for a third offense, $200 for a fourth offense, and $250 for a fifth violation and each subsequent one within a 12-month period.
While NYC DOT has been using stationary fixed-position cameras on streets for years to capture vehicles that do not make the first available turn off a bus lane, the MTA’s bus-mounted cameras capture vehicles standing for long periods or parked in a bus lane. The two systems complement each other and work in tandem to ensure that violators are not fined twice for the same offense. NYPD provides additional enforcement through its Clear Lanes initiative, which uses traffic enforcement agents, tow trucks, and ride-along with NYCT Bus personnel to target bus-lane blocking hotspots.
The bus-mounted ABLE systems are installed on 123 MTA buses across the three bus routes. The proposed 2020-2024 MTA Capital Plan includes $85 million for further expansion of the program.