Drivers Beware: Bus Lane Crackdown with Hefty Fines Is Underway; Aim is Faster Buses

The good news? Bus riders will get to destinations sooner as the NYPD Traffic begins a new crackdown on bus lane violations. The bad news? More motorists will be slapped with tickets costing $115 for violating bus lane rules and some, including delivery trucks, could be towed away, which adds another $185 to the charge.

| 16 Dec 2023 | 02:37

Bus riders may now see faster speeds on their rides, but car and truck drivers parked in marked bus lanes will see increased ticketing for illegally being there, announced Richard Davey, President of New York City Transit at a press conference Dec. 15.

He joined the NYPD’s Bus Lane Enforcement Task Force along 57th St in Manhattan to hand out summonses to vehicles parked in bus lanes on both sides of the street. This was an effort to keep the lanes clear and speed up buses, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:45 am.

Davey and members of the NYPD’s Bus Lane Enforcement Task Force ordered vehicles to move before they would be towed by the NYPD. During that time, between Madison Ave. and Seventh Ave., eight unlucky drivers received summonses, for not properly observing parking signage. The 57 St bus lanes are used by the M31 and M57, both tied for the third slowest peak period route in the entire MTA bus network. Average speed? 4.67 mph. That is only slightly faster than the average adults walking speed of 3 to 4 MPH.

“Bus lane rules are the simplest to follow–if you’re not a bus, get the heck out,” said Davey.

The NYPD’s Pilot Citywide Bus Lane Enforcement Task Force deploys during morning and evening rush hours to enforce and deter parking violations in bus stops, bus lanes, and busways to expedite bus routes and improve traffic safety. Each deployment consists of approximately 85 traffic enforcement agents in marked vehicles and foot-posts, as well as 15 tow trucks on weekdays; this is separate from the usual deployment of traffic agents. Since the Task Force started, 1,200 tickets have been issued; fees are $115.00 for a validation, with $185.00 additional for towing. The latter can be done for violators at any time, under current NYC traffic rules. Since Dec. 4, 149 vehicles have been towed.

Currently, 30 to 40 summonses and 200 verbal warnings are being uttered daily; 1,200 tickets have been issued since the start of the new enhancement of Dec. 4. Fees are $115.00 for a violation, with $185.00 additional for towing.

After an evaluation, the NYPD may decide to enhance the current program.

The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) has identified 39 bus corridors for priority enforcement of bus lane and bus stop violations. During Phase 1 of the pilot program, enforcement efforts will be prioritized along 18 bus corridors chosen by high weekly ridership and ongoing traffic delays incurred by bus lane and bus stop violations.

“We are thrilled to have enhanced enforcement,” said New York Transit President Davey.

On buses, the Transit Authority is expanding its rollout of Automatic Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras, to be rebranded as Automated Camera Enforcement (ACE). While legislation to install both fixed and bus-based cameras for ticketing illegally-parked vehicles was legalized by the NY State Legislature in 2010, Manhattan bus-based cameras were not installed until October 2019 on the M15 Select Bus Service (SBS) route. At that time, state legislative authorization was extended to allow camera-based enforcement on all bus lanes within New York City, not just SBS corridors, as in the original 2010 legislation. Bus cameras enable photo capture of drivers violating bus lane rules in real-time and have proven to be effective in deterring motorists from blocking bus lanes, improving service reliability and reducing collisions.

The MTA currently has 623 buses equipped with ABLE/ACE cameras on 21 routes across all boroughs, and beginning May 2024, the Authority will upgrade 14 existing routes with ACE cameras. The agency said routes with cameras increase speeds by an additional 5 percent.

Next year? Better motorist compliance with new hardware that will enable buses being able to actually generate instant parking violation tickets of $50.

Perhaps the best advice to Manhattan motorists was given by Michael Pliecki, NYPD Transportation Bureau Deputy Chief: “Bottom line is this; do not park in a bus lane.”

Under current NYC traffic rules, motorists can legally use bus lanes in New York City for several purposes, including making the next legal right turn, accessing the curb for immediate loading or unloading, or to avoid an emergency vehicle.

“Bus lane rules are the simplest to follow–if you’re not a bus, get the heck out.” NYC Transit President Richard Davey.