New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) leaders stood alongside transit advocates to call on the New York State Legislature to include in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget legislation that would make the Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras program permanent and provide the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) the ability to enforce certain traffic violations that impede bus operations anywhere they travel.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget proposal included making ABLE camera enforcement permanent and would also create a five-year pilot program allowing New York City Transit and NYCDOT to enforce applicable local laws and regulations regarding bus operation related traffic restrictions, such as:
- No Standing Zones in bus lanes and at bus stops
- Double parking in bus lanes
- Parking in bus lanes and at bus stops
- Turning in bus lanes
The New York State Senate included a similar version of the Governor’s proposal in their one-house budget released last week. Similar legislation to expand the use of camera enforcement was also proposed in 2022 and 2023 by State Sen. Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Alicia L. Hyndman.
Through February 2023, 224,000 violations have been issued since the camera enforcement program began, generating $11 million in revenue. Commercial vehicles have been the most common recidivists, with 86% of violators committing one violation. Only 5% of violators have committed more than two violations.
The M15-SBS route was one of the first bus routes to implement ABLE cameras, with the cameras being installed in October 2019. Today, the M15-SBS the fastest route that travels entirely on local Manhattan streets features an all-day average speed of 7.9 mph, which is much higher than the borough-wide average of 6.1 mph, according to the agency. Collisions on the route have gone down 34% since implementation.
“While larger initiatives like congestion pricing will truly help speed up buses throughout the city, camera enforcement is a tool at our disposal right now that has proven to be effective,” said New York City Transit President Richard Davey. “I applaud elected leaders for proposing legislation that would expand camera enforcement beyond the bus lane, allowing us to speed up buses now, so that New Yorkers who rely on the bus can get where they need to go faster.”
ABLE cameras are an essential tool to keep bus lanes clear of vehicles and buses on schedule for more consistent and reliable service. Bus enforcement technology was expanded to all five boroughs in 2022 and now cover approximately 50% of bus lane miles across New York City. The MTA and NYCDOT have agreed to expand camera enforcement to cover up to 85% of existing bus lanes by the end of 2023. NYCDOT’s fixed cameras will work in concert with these bus cameras to reduce the number of illegal cars and other vehicles in bus lanes.
Each bus lane corridor has signage indicating the hours that the bus lanes are operable and warning motorists that the lanes are camera-enforced, as the existing bus lane corridors have. NYCDOT issues warnings to motorists for the first 60 days, in accordance with state law, to ensure drivers are informed about the program before any fines are levied. Drivers who violate these rules during enforcement periods are subject to a summons, with fines beginning at $50 and escalating, for repeat offenders, up to $250.