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Bus-Mounted Cameras Coming To 14th Street To Ticket/Vaporize Scofflaw Drivers


Automated enforcement is coming to the 14th Street busway, though it’ll be another few months before the much-hyped bus-mounted cameras actually turn their vaporizing powers on deserving motorists.

Beginning tomorrow, new front-facing cameras aboard the M14 buses will begin snapping photos of drivers illegally stopped along the car-free corridor. For the first sixty days, those scofflaw drivers will get off with a warning. After that grace period, motorists will receive a $50 ticket for their first offense, with the penalty rising $50 for each subsequent violation, before maxing out at $250.

Here’s how that’s going to work, according to the MTA:

Motorists who remain in a bus lane without exiting at the first possible right turn, or they are captured as blocking the bus lane in the same location by two successive buses, are considered violating traffic laws and will be ticketed. The cameras capture evidence such as license plate information, photos and videos, and location and timestamp information of vehicles obstructing bus lanes to document bus lane violations. The system collects multiple pieces of evidence to ensure that vehicles making permitted turns from bus lanes are not ticketed. The package of evidence is transmitted to NYCDOT for review and processing, and the program is administered in partnership with NYCDOT and the NYC Department of Finance.

And here is a visual interpretation of what would happen if, instead of merely vaporizing cars, the cameras briefly shrunk them to allow the buses to drive over them. No bad ideas here guys, no bad ideas!

While not technically lasers, the bus-mounted cameras are a major component of the MTA’s efforts to speed up the flagging bus system, which has seen declining ridership and service cuts in recent years.

Since a similar effort was rolled out on the M15 SBS and B44 SBS routes last month, the cameras have observed at least 20,000 violators, according to the transit agency. Those drivers have also benefitted from a sixty day grace period.

Some transit advocates have noted that subway and bus fare evaders are not typically afforded warnings, and are subjected to fines twice as high as what drivers receive on their first offense.

Despite the generous grace period, the cameras may be a far more effective means of deterring drivers than police. A recent report from the Bus Turnaround Coalition coalition gave the NYPD an “F” for its enforcement of bus priority, noting that cops were among those who blocked the lanes most frequently.

As part of the 18-month pilot program intended to speed up the M14 by ridding 14th Street congestion, the city is taking a two pronged approach to camera enforcement. In addition to the bus-mounted cameras, the DOT has installed fixed cameras along the street, which will begin issuing tickets on December 2nd. Those devices can ensure that drivers are turning correctly off of the busway, but do not capture parked vehicles blocking the lane.

“The new enforcement cameras on the buses themselves will supplement DOT fixed cameras already along the route—further helping us keep bus lanes clear and allowing tens of thousands of commuters to keep moving,” NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement.

According to the MTA, M14 riders have seen a 38 percent drop in travel times since the busway went into effect, spurring a roughly 15 percent increase in ridership from this time last year.

Additional reporting by Stephen Nessen.

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