City installs cameras to catch drivers in Jay Street busway

Jay Street busway
The busway pilot on Jay Street shortly after its launch on Aug. 31.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Lights, camera, get out of the busway!

City street planners have installed cameras to catch scofflaws driving or parking illegally in the Jay Street busway.

The Department of Transportation set up the cameras along the 0.8-mile stretch of the busy Downtown Brooklyn thoroughfare as of Tuesday, but misbehaving car and truck drivers will get off with a warning during a 60-day grace period before they start getting fined, according to an agency release on Dec. 29.

Cameras mounted along the street or even on buses themselves will snap pictures and videos of vehicles in the bus lane illegally and send drivers a warning for the first two months — as per state law — before they start issuing summonses.

Fines for hogging the red-painted lanes start at $50 for the first offense, and increase in $50 increments for each following violation, up to $200 for the fourth and every subsequent fine during a 12-month period. 

Since the city opened Brooklyn’s newest busway on Aug. 31, it has been closed to through-traffic between 7 am and 7 pm on weekdays, while local access is still available on the roadway via Willoughby Street and the MetroTech Roadway underpass coming from the east, and a reconfigured Johnson Street from the west.

The change is technically a pilot which is set to end after a year in August 2021, but the restrictions are already showing promising results, with bus speeds up by as much as 80 percent compared to 2019, according to agency figures.

The bus-priority stretch has also cut traffic almost in half during morning and evening rush hours, with a 45 percent reduction of vehicles along the downtown roadway, according to DOT.

The city and the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority have introduced the bus lane camera program to bus routes across the Five Boroughs since lawmakers in Albany granted an expansion in 2019.

In Brooklyn, the cameras are already in effect along a handful of routes, including the B44, B46, B82, B35, B25, and B17, according to DOT.

The authorities have issued some 40,000 warnings and violations since the program launched in October 2019, according to an August report by Streetsblog.