By on November 19, 2010

Automated cameras will begin issuing tickets to the owners of vehicles that momentarily stray into bus lanes in New York City, New York beginning Monday. The cash-strapped metropolis imported the idea from London where a similar system generated 293,000 citations and more than £35 million (US $56 million) in 2008. New York’s bus lane tickets will run between $115 and $150 each.

The project marks one of the first uses of automated enforcement in the United States that drops the pretense of being a safety measure. The stated purpose of the new cameras is to give buses a travel priority over automobile traffic.

“We have already been able to speed up travel times along First and Second Avenues by more than 15 minutes and these cameras will help to further improve service,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay H. Walder said in a statement.

By reducing the space available to general purpose traffic with the bus lanes, city officials also hope to add to the already considerable amount of congestion so that motorists would be encouraged to exchange their personal automobiles for public bus rides. The initial cameras are located on First and Second Avenues. Additional automated ticketing machines are planned for 34th Street in Manhattan and Fordham Road in the Bronx. The number of ticketing machines is likely to grow quickly as London employs 1045 bus-mounted cameras and fifty static roadside units for its highly lucrative program. Tickets in the UK frequently go to motorists who are tricked by confusing signage or who are making turns into parking lots.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg promoted the idea to the state legislature and secured approval for his plan.


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24 Comments on “New York City Launches Bus Lane Ticket Cameras...”

  • avatar

    Actually, I’m sort of OK in this very specific instance. A bus lane in a congested city should be for buses. I don’t think it is generally applicable or useful, but for a very few cities like NY it is. The problem comes when in monkey see monkey do fashion these systems come to Podunk towns and cities. Every day I park in a business lot with about 16 spaces, 4 of which are handicapped reserved and in 20+ years I’ve only observed a few dozen vehicles with handicapped tags in any of those spaces. They have never filled up. This is a problem with one size fits all legislation, in this instance at the state level.
    Jeez, next they’ll be handing out tickets for driving on the sidewalks.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point, since numerous infractions from parking, littering, jay walking can occur within the city corridor, why not just blanket the vicinity with CCTV cameras London-style. They could call it SmartSafe SecurityNet.

    • 0 avatar

      I assume one’s insurance company would count each ticket as a moving violation?  If NYC wants to free up the bus lanes and raise revenue that’s fine.  I just have a problem with it also becoming a windfall for insurance companies.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d be surprised if it was considered a moving violation.  One would think the goal is to get money from the registered owner without the burden of determining the identity of the driver, let alone bringing insurance into the equation.  Or outstanding warrants, vehicle registration, citizenship and so on.

    • 0 avatar

      Cities I’m familiar with and have driven in frequently where this is a stupid idea – Providence, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Tulsa. Cities where it makes sense – Manhattan (does it make sense in the other boroughs? Beats me.)
      jmo – I understand the entirely too-reasonable paranoia about insurance premiums. Inscos already use your age, credit history, work history, how many times you’ve moved, etc. In moving from RI to MA (from hell to a bed of coals) my son found out that the age rating factor in RI extends to 30(!). MA is substantially cheaper for him to insure a car.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    That’s an interesting idea.  Here in Chicago, the municipal code specifically carves out an exception which states that bus stops can be used for temporary loading and unloading as long as there is no bus nearby.
    I wonder if these camera systems can be modified so they can issue citations while still adhering to the above exception.  Perhaps only issue the ticket if there is a bus within view of the camera?

  • avatar

    I live on First Avenue. I park my car in a garage whose only outlet is onto First Avenue. So I’m very directly affected by this.  I have mixed feelings about this. I’m against any sort of automated ticketing. However, I can say that the bus lanes (and the introduction of the Select Bus service which requires payment before boarding) have radically improved bus service on First and Second avenues. The bus lanes are very clearly marked and the road surface is a different color. The bus lanes do provide area for making right turns onto cross-streets. I will be exceptionally careful so as to avoid these tickets.

    First Avenue provides one of the only northbound truck routes in Manhattan, emptying into the on ramp for the Deegan and Bruckner expressways, so the trade off is increased traffic especially at rush hour. The problem is that the alternative for cars, the FDR/Harlem River Drive will become even more crowded with cars from New Jersey and Westchester.

    It’s a tradeoff. This is a low-cost alternative to building more subways and intra-city travel is vastly improved, but getting out of town on Friday evenings is going to get even harder. The truth is that public transit must have priority in Manhattan. That’s hard for a lot of people to understand, but gridlock caused by having way too many cars in such a small space is in no one’s best interest.

  • avatar

    “Tickets in the UK frequently go to motorists who are tricked by confusing signage or who are making turns into parking lots.”

    Anyone who actually reads the article and still approves of this scam deserves to be fined into poverty.

  • avatar

    I work in Manhattan and I’m a dedicated walker unless I have to walk more than 8 miles or time constraints force me to take a subway.
    They are going to make a bundle on fines with the way everyone abuses those lanes.

  • avatar

    At least in Ottawa they had the common decency to build roads for buses instead of squeezin normal people.

  • avatar

    These are why paint ball guns were invented. Raw eggs work OK too.

  • avatar

    Having spent more than a night in New York, on B’Way, the problem with this is B’Way downtown has exactly TWO LANES!  And enough traffic for 4 lanes.  So, in effect, buses get one lane, the rest of the planet gets the other lane.
    It was set up this way SPECIFICALLY to generate revenue, not for any other reason. It’s a cash cow.
    If you don’t live here, pay taxes here, take the MTA, or own a car here, New York is the greatest city on Earth!

  • avatar

    Look, it’s New York.
    Not only is congestion management much more of an issue than in smaller cities and towns, driving in the congested areas of such a town is something you do if you’re already very wealthy anyway (or if you’re a taxi).  More New Yorkers, by percentage, aren’t licensed to drive.
    Before we get self-righteous, realize that New York (or London, or Paris, or whatever) do these things because they cannot treat traffic like Podunk.

  • avatar

    It’s good to hear the candid truth from gov’t officials that they are PURPOSELY creating additional gridlock in an attempt to force people out of their own cars.

    Seattle is another rabid anti-car city, they are on their way to banning them entirely from the city limits (I fully expect to see this in another 20 years).  We’ll be paying tolls to get in and out of Seattle from the Eastside within the next year as well.  Ain’t progress grand?

    Seattle is currently taking away active (heavily used) general-purpose traffic lanes and creating BRT (bus-rapid-transit) and bicycle lanes instead.  Same story, different city, same motivation . . .  So we take a four-lane street that is slow but moving during peak periods, and turn it into a two-lane street of sheer gridlock hell, with another two near-empty lanes 99% of the time.  Brilliant!

    • 0 avatar

      So vote them out.
      If you don’t like the anti-car agenda, you have that option, but don’t be disappointed when your fellow citizens don’t agree with you.

    • 0 avatar

      anti-car city?
      NYC is like no other city, you have so many options to move around without that hassle of looking for parking, paying for it and get stuck in endless traffic.
      I can see many new yorkers parking their cars on the street, looking for a spot for hours, once they find a spot, they will not move the car until the next cleaning day, then move it again, never really using it but paying for insurance and registration, for this we have ZIP Car, such a brilliant idea, and if you have a car in the city but not using ZipCar instead, there must be some wrong calculation there for how much your car really cost to maintain.

  • avatar

    I live on the Eastside too redmondjp.  We like to blame those Seattle liberals but IMHO the traffic is bad in both directions .
    There’s that little “mom and pop shop” owned by some guy called Bill that seems to generate horrendous backups from Seattle.
    I would love to see these at the airport for the people who loiter in the “no parking” area and generally gum everything up. There’s a free cell-phone lot a block away.

  • avatar

    There was a failed legislation to charge cars entering Manhattan below 96 st, Bloomberg was fighting for it for some time but it did not work out so well.
    So, we have permanent street closures in mid town, bicycle lanes all over the city and there are more plans to close streets for cars (34 st bet 6 and 7 ave).
    On the other hand, if you come to the city after 6pm, you can park right in time sq on 6 hour meters, very convenient, come before 6p and it’s a nightmare.
    To my humble opinion, anything the city is doing to drive private cars out of the city in mid week is a good thing, you could see the results of such thing when the MTA went on strike, it was so much fun to walk the streets.
    I’m driving into Manhattan every day for work, I do have a parking garage and I will never go into midtown with my car during the week, it’s just insane and the subway provide a much quicker solution.
    I’m for it !

  • avatar

    I live right at the top of 1st ave. right now, and so I drive alongside these lanes every day. The issue will be how they deal with turns off of the road, merges onto the FDR, or up top, people bearing right onto the Willis ave bridge. As it stands now you have to wait too long before moving right, or else you eclipse the end of the painted bus lane. This might not seem like a big deal, but you try hesitating when 50 psychotic uptown NY cabbies are driving into your rear bumper. People will get tons of tickets while trying to obey the law and driving safely, that’s my take, you can already see it every day.

    This would be a big deal if it wasn’t for NY’s shameful kangaroo court system. For all that everyone seems to despise (myself included) the camera ticket inspired changes to due process few seem to realize that this is already the case in NY, and for tickets issued by actual officers. You get a ticket in NYC, even if the cop fabricates the entire exchange, and well, screw you pay me is what you’ll hear. No jury, threats of inflated points and fines, license suspension, all delivered at the begining of proceedings, just to keep you from having any notion that you might say not guilty.

    Re: insurance. NY camera tickets aren’t pointed (as yet), but the city gives insurers open access to their ticket databases (lawsuit please). Points will start being assigned once the administration feels like they’ve got this system in the bag. I know people who’ve lost coverage for receiving red light tickets, despite not having points assigned.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    While I don’t really have much to say about the cameras  I though the line ” vehicles that momentarily stray into bus lanes in New York City, New York beginning Monday” should be highlighted as a silly bit of rabble rousing. Drivers who “momentarily stray” across lanes should be charged with careless or dangerous driving or the equivalent. So giving them a fine is letting them off lightly.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, but if you don’t “momentarily stray” from your lane at least once a block in NYC traffic you will get sideswiped. Especially on the north-south avenues with timed lights, but that really applies everywhere. Taxis, delivery trucks and idiots veer off to double park willy nilly, and accepted lane change practice is just do it and let everyone else sort out the braking end of things. Police do it, school buses do it, city buses do it (and cause a good percentage of it), it’s part and parcel of driving in NY. Hell, in a lot of places lanes are really just a suggestion, and frequently you’ll see long stretches of road without any visible lines at all, when you know damn well there are at least 4 lanes. The worst part is, if you plan on making a turn and you don’t get over to the far side as quickly as possible, you will get boxed out, and you will not be turning, and that’s what makes the bus lane cameras a pure money grab.

      The rules really are different in NY (I think it has to do with the number of drivers who learned the art out of country), but I would wholeheartedly agree with your statement if we were talking about a different place.

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