The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) plans to significantly expand its camera enforcement efforts against drivers who disrupt bus operations next year. The agency announced on Wednesday that it will extend automated ticketing to include vehicles blocking bus stops and double parking on bus routes. Currently, the MTA employs cameras on more than 600 buses across 21 routes, automatically issuing $50 tickets to cars blocking bus lanes. Starting in May of 2024, this enforcement will be expanded to include motorists blocking bus stops or double parking along bus routes, with fines imposed if a camera-equipped bus arrives behind them.
In May, the MTA will activate expanded camera enforcement on 500 buses across 14 routes already equipped with Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras. By the end of 2024, the technology will be deployed on an additional 400 buses, covering 14 routes currently lacking camera enforcement. Subsequently, another 1,000 buses across 30 routes are scheduled to have cameras added through 2027. To reflect the expanded program, ABLE is rebranded as Automated Camera Enforcement (ACE). The enhanced enforcement was approved by lawmakers in this year’s state budget and will run as a pilot program through 2028.
Sunil Nair, the head of the MTA’s zero-emissions fleet transformation, emphasized the significance of keeping bus stops clear: “This is quite a game changer for us. Making sure that our bus stops are clear is super important for us.”
Clearing the right-of-way for buses is crucial for maintaining faster speeds than walking. New York’s buses have been the slowest among major American cities, averaging 8.18 mph this year. Various factors contribute to slow bus speeds, including closely-spaced bus stops, constant traffic congestion, and the impact of individual drivers violating parking regulations. Nair highlighted that a single double-parked vehicle can potentially cause delays for thousands of commuters, affecting traffic behind it and increasing congestion on the roads.
The expansion of camera enforcement, particularly with the ACE initiative, aims to address these challenges and improve bus speeds. Activation of ABLE cameras has shown an average 5% increase in bus speeds, and recipients of tickets for bus lane violations rarely repeat the offense. Additionally, bus speeds see a 10% increase when a route is equipped with a bus lane and improve even further with dedicated busways. The latter has led to over a 40% improvement in bus speeds on specific routes. Despite these positive impacts, concerns persist about the slow pace of bus lane installations, with some legal mandates going unmet, prompting expressions of disappointment from transit officials.