You better think twice before your impatience pushes you to drive down a bus lane or, worse yet, double park on one and creating a traffic jam.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced last week that it has activated its automated bus lane enforcement cameras for the first time in The Bronx. They are now on the Bx12 and the Bx41 routes and will activate it in the coming days along the Bx19.
This is part of a program that was announced last month that added the cameras to 300 buses across the city to deter motorists from blocking bus lanes and improve service and commute times along these routes which are notoriously some of the slowest in the borough.
Violators will be issued a warning for 60 days from the first offense by the New York City Department of Transportation in accordance with state laws in order to make motorists aware about the program before they actually receive a fine.
But after that grace period ends, any offending motorist will receive a $50 fine for the first violation. If a motorist repeats the offense within a 12-month period, the fines will increase as follows per incident:
• $100 for a second offense
• $150 for a third offense
• $200 for a fourth offense
• $250 for a fifth violation and each subsequent offense thereafter within a 12-month period
What many drivers do not realize is that driving and double parking on bus lanes not only create traffic jams because buses then have to weave in and out of traffic because the lanes are blocked, but it also prevents emergency vehicles from getting to where they need to get to.
We have recorded these instances many times along the Bx19 route on 149th Street at The Hub, where you can sometimes find the entire lane blocked by double-parked vehicles from Melrose Avenue to Courtlandt Avenue on any given day.
“For many of our residents, public transportation is an essential means to getting to their destination,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “With this initiative, MTA is prioritizing safety, accessibility, and speed. In choosing the Bx12 and Bx40 routes, the MTA is demonstrating its commitment to seeing these and other issues raised by our commuters addressed," added Gibson.
"Fordham Road is one of the most highly-trafficked areas in NYC, and we must ensure residents have access to reliable public transportation," said Council Member Oswald Feliz.
Feliz added, "For too long, buses, including the 12-bus, have moved unacceptably slow because bus lanes have been often blocked by private cars - delaying thousands of students and workers who rely on public transportation." I'm thankful that the MTA is taking steps to improve bus speeds, by creating a system that enforces rules related to bus lanes. At the same time, given that the goal of the program is to prevent motorists from entering bus lanes, I'm thankful that the first offense will serve as a warning, rather than a fine, so that motorists can be aware of the program."
Council Member Pierina Sanchez of The Bronx, who's an ardent supporter of safer streets and transportation equity said, "Improving the bus network must remain a priority for the MTA, particularly for our seniors and students who rely on a functional and timely system every day.”
“With MTA's bus-mounted cameras, improving bus speeds along the Bx12 will be that much easier. Drivers who repeatedly block bus lanes must make way for the 7 million riders who rely on the Bx12 to get to school, work, medical appointments and more each year. From Inwood to the East Bronx, through my district, ABLE cameras will clear bus lanes so MTA buses can efficiently connect our neighborhoods across the boroughs," added Sanchez.
Given that enforcement and education on such violations in The Bronx have been relatively non-existent, this perhaps will help motorists realize that they are breaking the law and will be fined if caught doing so, and perhaps we'll have less traffic and safer streets along these critical routes.