The city is backing down after sending out a flurry of long-delayed traffic violations.
Drivers suddenly began receiving a wave of summonses they accumulated in the three months since the city activated surveillance cameras to ticket drivers who used the dedicated bus lanes created for the new B44 Select Bus Service.
When locals realized that they had racked up as much as $7,000 in fines before they realized enforcement had begun, they reached out to Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay), who appealed to the Department of Transportation to void the tardy tickets.
“It is common sense they should do it,” said Deutsch. “Getting summonses three months later is not normal.”
Fortunately for the drivers, common sense prevailed, and the city has agreed to dismiss all but drivers’ first violation from March 17 to July 25 — and drivers who have already paid multiple tickets can expect a refund.
“Recognizing this was the city’s newest SBS route, we understand it might take time for motorists to adjust to the regulations,” said Scott Gastel, press secretary for the department. “For those who recently received multiple violations from the spring, DOT will dismiss all but the first violation issued within the March 17–July 25 timeframe. Refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.”
Locals facing thousands of dollars in fines are thrilled by the ticket dismissal. One resident, whose family had 13 tickets and expected even more, said it almost seems too good to be true.
“Wow — I can’t even believe it,” said Yelena Vasilenko of Sheepshead Bay. “It is like a movie.”
David Oliel of Coney Island expected nearly $7,000 in tickets and had already paid $700, but now he’s jumping for joy — literally.
“I was jumping,” said Oliel of the moments after he heard about the reprive. “I started screaming — it is a big break.”
Now, instead of worrying about thousands of dollars of debt, Oliel is planning how he will spend the money he thought was going towards tickets.
“My son — soon, he is getting married,” said Oliel. “We’re going to use the money for his wedding.”
Deutsch first pointed out the issue to the city last week, and he said he was pleased by the swift response.
“When I brought this injustice to the attention of the Department of Finance and the Department of Transportation, I was impressed by the quick positive response I received,” he said.
The dedicated lanes for the B44 Select Bus Service were created last November, but enforcement didn’t begin until March 17 —four months later, leaving drivers lots of time to develop bad habits. Some drivers complained that the long delay between starting enforcement and sending the tickets unfairly lulled them into thinking that they could continue to use the bus lanes consequence-free.
“If I got the ticket a week later — or even a month later — I’d stop right away,” said Aron Rosenbaum of Williamsburg, who received 25 tickets — at one point getting eight tickets in one day.
Rosenbaum said he’s relieved to hear about the city’s promise to dismiss most of his tickets, but he remains wary until the violations are off his record.
“I’m not as nervous as I was last week,” said Rosenbaum. “When I see it, I’ll believe it — I don’t want to get disappointed.”