New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced that the 60-day warning period for bus lane blockers on the M15 Select Bus Service route has ended and motorists that are caught by its new bus-mounted cameras will now receive violations with fines up to US$250.
The forward-facing cameras on buses serving the M15 SBS route on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan were implemented on October 7, however state legislation mandated a 60-day grace period before violators could be fined for standing or parking in the bus lanes. Motorists who are caught by the bus-mounting cameras blocking bus lanes on the route will be subject to a fine of US$50 for the first violation. For additional violations within a 12-month period, fines are US$100 for a second offense, US$150 for a third offense, US$200 for a fourth offense, and US$250 for a fifth violation and each subsequent one within a 12-month period.
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 has been for the past 15 months. Bus lanes and their enforcement have proven to improve transit trips in highly congested areas, helping to double bus speeds while increasing other vehicle speeds by 5% on pilot routes.
NYC Transit is currently using the Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) system on 123 MTA buses serving: the M15 SBS in Manhattan; the B44 SBS that travels on approximately 10 miles (16km) of dedicated bus lanes through Brooklyn; and the M14 SBS that uses bus lanes on 14th Street as well as NYCDOT’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 lane at the same location by two successive buses, are considered to be violating traffic laws and will be ticketed. To heighten awareness of their use, NYC Transit is launching a campaign that features ‘Are you a bus?’ posters on the back of buses equipped with ABLE camera systems.
The ABLE camera systems capture evidence such as license plate information (LPR), photos and videos, as well as location and timestamp information, of vehicles obstructing bus lanes to document clear cases of violation. The system collects multiple pieces of evidence to ensure that vehicles making permitted turns from bus lanes are not ticketed, with the information transmitted to NYCDOT for review and processing. While NYCDOT has been using stationary fixed-position cameras 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 work in tandem to ensure that violators are not fined twice for the same offense.
“We have committed to speeding up buses citywide, and to get there, we need to continue stepping up automated bus lane enforcement,” said NYCDOT’s commissioner, Polly Trottenberg. “The new enforcement cameras on the buses will complement our fixed cameras already along the route, further helping us keep bus lanes clear and allowing commuters who rely on the M15 a faster, more reliable ride.”