Expanding Bus Lane Camera Automated Enforcement on the Upper East Side and Calling on Albany for Authorization to Expand
New York, NY-Transit advocates and elected officials and the New York City Department of Transportation gathered today to call on state lawmakers to authorize bus lane enforcement cameras citywide in the upcoming state budget due at the beginning of next month.
Today, Congress Member Maloney, State Senator Kreuger and Assembly Member Seawright joined Council Member Ben Kallos, DOT Manhattan Commission Ed Pincar and advocates from NYPIRG Straphanger’s Campaign, Transit Center, Riders Alliance, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, to call on Albany to expand hours and equip at least 50 SBS buses with cameras to enforce bus lanes in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget.
Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio promised a ramped up pace of bus lane installation. Now, bus rider advocates are calling on the legislature to include binding language in the upcoming state budget that authorizes automated camera enforcement of those new and existing bus lanes. Moreover, without enforcement cameras in place, advocates fear, blocked bus lanes will be the norm and the additional resources focused on improving the bus rider experience will be squandered.
Council Member Kallos along with Council Member Keith Powers have been working on bus lane camera automated enforcement for more than a decade starting when they served under Assembly Member Jonathan Bing who introduced A10233 in March 2008 proposing the first pilot. The enforcement legislation was later passed as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2010-2011 state budgetwith the support of Senators Liz Krueger who voted in favor. In 2017 and again in 2019, Senator Krueger introduced legislation with Assembly Member Harvey Epstein to lift the cap entirely on automated enforcement of bus lanes.
“When cars and trucks block bus lanes, they slow down traffic throughout the city. With average bus speeds in Midtown down to roughly 7 miles an hour, we can do better. I applaud Council Member Kallos for his efforts to encourage the MTA and NYC DOT to automate enforcement of bus lanes citywide and keep lanes clear of obstructions,” said Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.
“Buses are a central part of our transit infrastructure on the Upper East Side, but too often they are slowed to a crawl by our congested streets. Dedicated bus lanes offer a solution, but without camera enforcement they cannot function properly. That is why the State Senate Majority included expanded bus lane camera enforcement in our one-house budget resolution this week. I look forward to working to ensure camera enforcement legislation makes it across the finish line in Albany,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.
“I love bus lanes when they work. There’s nothing like speeding passed block after block of cars parked in traffic as you get where you’re going fast and feeling good about minimizing your carbon footprint,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It’s impossible to rider the M15SBS without running into a vehicle in the bus lane. When a driver blocks a bus lane they are ruining commutes for 43,343 riders each day and that’s just plain selfish. Drivers who block bus lanes and they should get a fine every time until they get out of the way and that’s why we need enforcement cameras on each bus.”
“The Select Bus Service network and features including dedicated bus lanes, needs to be protected with the expansion of the bus lane camera program. Along with my colleagues in the Assembly, I am fighting for automated bus camera enforcement for every mile of bus-only lanes in New York City in this year’s State budget. Bus ridership is in decline, resulting in a 7.4% decrease in rides between 2016 and 2017, to the tune of almost 9.5 million less rides in Manhattan alone. As we face a congestion crisis, we must act to improve our transportation infrastructure, and keep New Yorkers moving forward quickly and efficiently,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.
“Bus lanes are critical to keep public transportation moving but they can only be effective if we all follow the rules. Automated enforcement is a simple way to keep these lanes clear and it should be a priority in the upcoming budget. Thank you to the Riders Alliance, transportation advocates and my colleagues in government for supporting this important transit issue and helping to keep our city moving,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“Expanding enforcement of bus lanes will help reduce our city's carbon footprint while decreasing commute times for thousands of public transit users. I am proud to join my colleagues in government and transit advocates to call on Albany to implement this much-needed expansion,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.
“It critical that dedicated bus lanes remain clear to keep traffic moving swiftly. An increase in automated enforcement will crack down on blocked bus lanes across my district, specifically along the M15 Select Bus Service, helping us all get to where we’re going a little faster,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
“Keeping bus lanes clear is an essential part of Mayor de Blasio's push to increase average bus speeds 25% by the end of 2020, along with street redesigns and the expansion of Transit Signal Priority," said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Edward Pincar Jr. "We thank Council Member Kallos and the Riders Alliance, the Straphangers Campaign, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for calling on State lawmakers to provide the City and the MTA with expanded bus lane enforcement camera authorization, to keep New York City's 2.5 million daily bus riders moving.”
“Bus lanes only work when cars don’t illegally drive or park in them. When bus lanes are blocked, buses and emergency vehicles have to swerve into regular traffic lanes, causing gridlock. Speaking of gridlock, the governor’s executive budget would finally allow buses to have cameras to enforce the law—but the Senate and Assembly need to approve the measure and stop holding up our buses. It’s long past time for legislators need to take the common-sense next step and allow for camera enforcement of bus lanes to help buses move faster and discourage drivers from violating the law,” said Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
"Riders have worked tirelessly to win bus lanes. But it will all come to nothing if those lanes are blocked and the rules go unenforced," said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, Senior Organizer at the Riders Alliance. "Riders' time is as valuable as any other New Yorkers. State leaders need to step up and authorize camera enforcement citywide so that all New York riders can get where we need to be."
"Bus lanes are essential for better bus service, but they don't work when cars and trucks are parked in them. Riders need automated bus lane camera enforcement to keep lanes clear and to get buses moving," said Jaqi Cohen, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Coordinator.
"When I first proposed legislation to authorize bus lane cameras for Bus Rapid Transit lanes, my daughter was an infant," said former Assembly Member Jonathan Bing. "Now, she's a sixth-grader who takes the M15 SBS to school with her friends every day. Expansion of bus lane camera enforcement will allow people traveling to medical appointments, school and work to get where they need to be more quickly and better take advantage of all the East Side has to offer."
Kallos: Josh J. Jamieson JJamieson@BenKallos.com, 516-369-2921
Riders Alliance: Danny Pearlstein, 917 862 0211
Straphangers Campaign: Jaqi Cohen, 914 393 0755
Tri-State Transportation Campaign: Nick Sifuentes, 212 715 8761