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 those driving in 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 after enforcement began, but before the first notice arrived in the mail, they reached out to Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay). The pol 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 department spokesman Scott Gastel. “For those who recently received multiple violations from the spring, DOT will dismiss all but the first violation.”
Locals facing thousands of dollars in fines are thrilled by the ticket dismissal. One resident, whose family got hit with 13 tickets and expected even more, said it seems too good to be true.
“Wow — I can’t even believe it,” said Yelena Vasilenko, a Sheepshead Bay resident. “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 reprieve. “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 reaction.
“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 motorists 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 is going to remain on guard until the violations are cleared from 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.”