The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has awarded a $6.2 million contract to a company that will launch camera enforcement of bus lanes to ticket drivers who they say slow bus lanes to a crawl and add to the the declining ridership experienced by the agency in recent years.
The crackdown on drivers is part of the New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan to not only reinvigorate subway infrastructure but make buses a reliable option for commuters who may have lost faith over the infamously slow pace.
The buses themselves will be equipped with the technology to capture violations in real-time, the MTA said, and fits Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative to speed up buses by 25 percent in two years.
“This advanced automated camera technology will make a real difference toward clearing the way for our buses as they navigate some of the most congested roadways in the nation,” Darryl Irick, MTA Bus Company President, said. “Together with our City partners, we are prioritizing public transit on city streets so that our buses and our customers spend less time sitting in traffic. We look forward to putting these cameras on the road and dedicating additional capital funds from congestion pricing and other means so we can expand the program even further.”
Starting in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the MTA will be piloting the program on 123 vehicles servicing Select Bus Service routes in 2019 and 2020. The technology will collect enough data to ensure that drivers making permitted turns from bus lanes are not ticketed, the MTA said.
“We are excited that the MTA is undertaking this critical effort to help keep bus lanes clear,” city DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio announced a plan to speed buses by 25 percent over the next two years, and automated enforcement – where we hope to see every bus on every route equipped — will be one more step to reach that ambitious goal.”
Better bus lane enforcement in congested areas of Manhattan have seen increased speeds of 17 to 30 percent, according to the MTA, and de Blasio announced in January that cars parked in bus lanes will be towed by a special NYPD task force. Councilman Robert Holden and Council Speaker Corey Johnson have introduced additional legislation that will curb placard abuse by government employees in official vehicles who block bus lanes and pedestrian crossings.
Bus lanes have been launched across the city in effort to ease the flow in key zones such as Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards where a redesign heavily opposed by the community has seen improvements in commute times for Q52 riders.
The Q52 recently got A grade in an independent city-wide bus report card.