By on March 3, 2009

New York City announced last Monday that it will install automated bus lane ticket cameras in defiance of a decision by the New York state legislature last year to reject the concept. Mayor Michael Bloomberg crafted a plan to bypass lawmakers and use the power of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to issue $150 tickets to cabs that are photographed straying momentarily into the specially marked lanes. Bloomberg hopes that once the camera program is operational he can convince lawmakers to give him the authority to expand the program beyond cabs, allowing every vehicle in the city to be ticketed.

“While the vast majority of taxicab and for-hire drivers obey and respect the law, those few that abuse bus lanes have a negative effect on the traffic flow for all motorists, including their fellow professional drivers,” TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus said in a statement.

The commission is using its power over a cab driver’s medallion—the right to operate a taxi in New York City—to ensure cab drivers pay the bus lane photo citations. With individual medallions selling at auction for $524,000, drivers will have little recourse after being declared guilty by a TLC administrative law judge.

The cameras will be installed on 34th Street between Park and 11th Avenues where lanes were painted red to indicate they could only be used by city buses. By reducing the space available to general purpose traffic, city officials also hoped to create enough congestion that motorists would be encouraged to exchange their personal automobiles for public bus rides.

Future city Department of Transportation plans include taking away even more general purpose lanes on 34th Street to create pedestrian plazas. Those plans, however may be on hold until the city can generate enough revenue to cover the cost of the redesign.

If London’s experience with the bus lane camera concept is any guide, it would not take long to find the funding. London’s first automated bus lane ticketing pilot project had generated 426,000 citations and more than £30 million (US $42 million) in revenue by 2005.

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9 Comments on “New York City to Install Bus Lane Ticket Cameras...”

  • avatar

    Can they just go and spend money fixing a few dozen potholes on the Cross Bronx Expressway instead…

  • avatar

    I generally approve of Bloomberg’s “take your medicine” style of governance (mostly b/c he’s usually not applying it in service of partisan ideology) but I think, in the instance of video surveillance, he’s lost track of his responsibilities as a public servant.

    He’s had a long standing goal of introducing these cameras for all types of moving violations, let’s not kid ourselves, so this move is just laying the groundwork for their wider acceptance within the city. What is especially disturbing about this is his targeting of the captive cabbies, because the goal isn’t cleaning up their behaviour on 34th, it’s the rollout of the cameras. He is threatening an asset of theirs worth (as mentioned) quite a bit of money, and he’s comfortable doing so without granting them due process or the right to confront their accusers. Besides, anyone who’s been to 34th knows how many cops are already there (literally standing around schmoozing tourists; really? horses? where’s the riot?), they can write tickets.

    NYC is also home to several investment banks who own siginificant stakes in many major camera enforcement operations.

  • avatar

    Get used to it. How else are we going to pay for this massive “stimulus”? Govs are clearly NOT going to be cutting expenses, and probably will continue to increase them while receiving less in tax revenue.

    And it seems voters clearly won’t put anyone into office who will go back to the good days of low taxes for basic services and thats it.

    Its happening in Chicago too. Maybe it isn’t red light cameras, but its proposed hikes to vehicle registration stickers, cook county sales taxes, etc. They won’t cut staff, their friends and family who make 6 figures as an admin assistant, but they will vote for tax increases at every chance to close the budget gap.

    That earlier article about WA increasing their reg fee. I believe California just did as well.

    Hey, government handouts are free right? I think that’s what most people think….

  • avatar

    “How else are we going to pay for this massive “stimulus”? Govs are clearly NOT going to be cutting expenses”

    The answer is having the political courage to raise taxes when costs and debt are high. Although from reading the second part of your comment it seems you don’t like that choice.

    I’d agree that the money is coming from somewhere (and that bigger cuts aren’t likely), I’m just saying that having it come through a law enforcement action is far worse than a tax hike. All of a sudden there is incentive to prosecute and ticket, there is pressure to lessen standards such as reasonable doubt and there is incentive to implement the scheme in areas where there isn’t a problem to address in the first place. This is properly called stealing (literally at gunpoint), not justice, and it undermines the trust our government needs to prosecute real crime.

  • avatar

    Agendas on top of agendas. You couldn’t pay me enough to live in that congested shit hole.

  • avatar

    It may be a congested shit hole, but you couldn’t pay me enough to live in the ‘burbs. Fact is, most buses are so slow that walking is faster. Most of that is due to idiot drivers who don’t realize they’re blocking the lane. This will solve that problem.

  • avatar


    “This will solve that problem”

    Of course it will, but at what cost? Other things that might “solve the problem” include automatic spike strips and those retractable steel posts. Those solutions destroy cars and cause safety hazards far in excess of what’s happening today. The cameras (in this application) probably won’t cause physical damage on 34th st., but they have their own costs which need to be justified (due process for one, which is apparently important enough to our way of life that even rapists and murderers enjoy that right).

    The problem with installing cameras is we have a solution to this problem that we already pay the incidental costs for, policemen.

  • avatar

    I’m suddenly reminded of that terrible Sylvester Stallone/Wesley Snipes/Sandra Bullock film “Demolition Man”, where in the near future every time you violate some minor code or regulation (such as cussing) it is all caught on scamera and a ticket with your name on it prints right out, to the accompaniment of “violation”.
    The future is gonna’ suck.

  • avatar
    zun hao lin

    late response but, i want to leave a reply…… I feel like the city should really invest the money in fixing the roads, not on ticketing the tax payers who try to make a living. I feel like the city had been attack b/c all those bumps and holes on the ground. If the cameras are install to help the citizen b/c of abuse of power by the NYPD, or accidents, it would make alot sense.

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