Bus-mounted cameras coming to MTA’s M14 SBS route

Nov. 25, 2019
NYC DOT’s fixed-position street cameras begin issuing violations Dec. 2 and the M14 bus-mounted cameras began a 60-day grace period Nov. 21.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has installed a new bus-mounted camera system on its M14 Select Bus Service (SBS) route to enforce bus lanes and to further enhance traffic enforcement on the new 14th Street Truck and Transit Priority lanes.

The priority lanes have contributed to a 38 percent decrease in travel times and a ridership jump to more than 32,000 daily customers. The bus-mounted cameras complement existing New York City Department of Transportation’s (NYC DOT) fixed-location cameras, which will begin issuing violations with fines on Dec. 2.

“The bus-mounted camera system on 14th Street will be a game-changer for our service,” said MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim. “Taken together with customer-focused upgrades such as new bus boarding platforms, we expect to see continued, sustained improvements in bus speeds, M14 ridership and travel times.”

The forward-facing camera systems are installed on M14A/D SBS buses, which travel on 2.5 miles of bus lanes on 14th Street. From 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, only buses, trucks, paratransit vehicles and emergency services may make through trips on 14th Street between Third and Eighth Avenues, while all other vehicles must turn at the next available right. To further enhance transit priority, the MTA’s bus-mounted cameras will enforce traffic laws prohibiting vehicles from parking, loading or standing in the 14th Street bus lanes while bus lane hours are in effect. 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.

“Our bus-mounted cameras will heighten enforcement of new NYC DOT’s Transit Priority lanes that have completely transformed 14th Street from being one of the most congested corridors just a few months ago,” said Craig Cipriano, Acting MTA Bus Company president and senior vice president for buses of NYC Transit. “The added layer of enforcement reinforces the importance of bus lanes to improving our service: when bus lanes are clear, everyone moves faster.” 

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 NYC DOT for review and processing, and the program is administered in partnership with NYC DOT and the NYC Department of Finance. The cameras, which already are enforcing bus lanes on the M15 SBS and B44 SBS routes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, have observed more than 20,000 violators since enforcement began Oct. 7 on the M15 SBS route.

During the M14 bus camera’s initial 60-day grace period, motorists who block bus lanes are issued a warning that does not carry a fine. At the end of this grace period, motorists who continue to block bus lanes will be subject to a fine of $50 for the first violation, and for additional violations within a 12-month period: $100 for a second offense, $150 for a third offense, $200 for a fourth offense; and $250 for a fifth violation and each subsequent offense thereafter within a 12-month period.

The graduated fine structure applies to the type of violation and is not specific to the bus route, therefore a motorist that is ticketed for blocking a bus lane on 14th Street and subsequently is caught blocking a bus lane on the M15 or B44 SBS route will be subject to a fine of $100 for the additional offenses within a 12-month period. The MTA’s bus-mounted cameras enhance NYC DOT’s use of fixed-location cameras on streets to enforce bus lanes, as well as NYPD’s initiatives to deter parking in bus lanes that began earlier this year. NYC DOT’s stationary camera enforcement program on 14th Street will begin issuing violations with fines beginning Dec. 2.

“In six weeks of the busway, 14th Street has already seen a dramatic transformation with faster buses and higher ridership on the M14 SBS,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  “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 thanks MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim, NYCT President Andy Byford and the entire team at the MTA for their partnership as we strengthen this essential enforcement program.”

The bus-mounted cameras are installed on 123 MTA buses across the three routes for bus lane enforcement. The proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan includes $85 million for further expansion of the program.

NYC Transit is working with NYC DOT and NYPD to increase bus lane enforcement in highly congested areas as part of NYC Transit’s Fast Forward plan to improve bus service, increase bus speeds and attract new ridership. MTA says results so far have yielded faster bus speeds by as much as 19 percent on a portion of Fifth Avenue, 50 percent on a portion of Fresh Pond Road and as much as 30 percent near the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel’s Manhattan approach. Other strategies include redesigning every borough’s bus network to better meet customer needs, installing traffic signal priority technology, implementing more transit priority street designs and deploying new modern buses with better reliability and customer amenities.