The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will mount buses along the B46 Select Bus Service line with cameras that automatically ticket drivers hogging the route’s dedicated bus lane, with aim towards increasing speeds and stemming the system’s plummeting ridership figures.
“We know that well-enforced bus lanes are a critical component of bringing our customers back to the system,” said Craig Cipriano, acting Vice President for Buses at New York City Transit.
Beginning on Feb. 20, motorists who drive in the dedicated bus lanes, which runs eight miles along Malcolm X Boulevard and Utica Avenue and serves an average of 50,000 riders on weekdays, will receive warnings for a 60-day grace period — after which the cameras will begin issuing fines starting at $50.
Penalties will increase by $50 for each additional offense within a yearlong span, with a maximum penalty of $250.
According to city transit bigwigs, the cameras are capable of capturing license plate information, along with a location and timestamps. To ensure the legality and proper functioning of the system, the MTA claims their buses will take multiple shots and are capable of recording video as well.
Motorists are allowed to travel in the bus lane for up to a block in order to make a right turn — and the MTA claims its system is intelligent enough to ensure only drivers caught bypassing the first available turn are ticketed.
The new enforcement program is already in effect on the B44 line along Nostrand Avenue, and the M14 and M15 lines in Manhattan, where the MTA claims the automated ticket system has had a dramatic effect on improving bus speeds.
Since implementation on the B44 last fall, the cameras have issued 902 violations to offending motorists, and bus speeds have improved to an average of 7.3 miles-per-hour — a 2.8 percent increase. That speed, however, is still below the average citywide speed of 8.1 miles per hour.
“What we’ve seen is each of those routes have made improvements in bus speeds,” Cipriano said at a press conference in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Wednesday.
Improving bus speeds is a key component of the agency’s “fast forward” program, which was spearheaded by outgoing City Transit President Andy Byford, and aims to modernize the systems aging infrastructure, speed up transit, and attract new riders.