MTA expands use of automated bus lane enforcement technology

Oct. 5, 2022
MTA plans to install 300 ABLE camera system by the end of 2022 and an additional 600 by the end of 2023.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expanding the use of automated bus lane enforcement (ABLE) cameras and will install the technology on an additional 300 buses by the end of the year. The buses will operate on nine routes in Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn.

MTA calls ABLE cameras “an essential tool to keep bus lanes clear” and keeping buses on schedule. The cameras capture busway and bus lane rules violations in real-time and transmits the information to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) for review and processing.

When installation is complete, the MTA will have more than double the number of buses equipped with the technology, which currently stands at 123 buses operating on seven routes in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The first of the new deployment began operating on the Q44 Select Bus Service (SBS) route on Oct. 3.

“Improving the bus network must be at the top of the MTA agenda,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “We have made tremendous progress over the last few years with new strategies designed to speed up our buses, and now we are doubling down by using technology to clear out bus lanes so MTA buses can keep moving.”

The deployment on the Q44 SBS route is the first deployment of Hayden AI’s perception systems. 

“Everyone at Hayden AI is excited to see our AIoT powered camera systems in action on the Q44,” said Hayden AI CEO Chris Carson. “The Q44 is a critically important connector, providing access to jobs and essential services for thousands of riders everyday. We’re proud to help the MTA improve service on this route with automated bus lane enforcement.”

‘Bus lanes are for buses’

The work to roll out ABLE camera systems on more buses is part of an agreement between MTA and NYCDOT to expand camera enforcement to cover up to 85 percent of existing bus lanes by the end of 2023. In addition to the Q44 SBS route, MTA plans to install ABLE cameras on S79 SBS, Bx12 SBS, Bx41 SBS, Bx19, Q43, B62, B25 and B42 through the end of 2022. The authority plans to install 600 new cameras in 2023. Locations were determined to maximize the length of bus lanes covered, balance distribution between boroughs, address some of the newer bus lanes and incorporate input from the MTA and NYCDOT on known locations with issues.

Signs indicating bus lane hours and notifying motorists that camera-enforcement is being used will be posted. Per New York state law, NYCDOT will issue warnings to violators during the first 60 days. During the enforcement period, violators can be fined $50 and up to $250 for repeat offenders.

New York City Transit Department of Buses Senior Vice President Frank Annicaro explained the bus lane cameras are an effective tool too changing driver behavior and delivering increased bus speeds.

“We hear from our customers and bus operators all the time that buses get stuck in traffic due to vehicles blocking our lanes. So, if you’re a motorist, consider this your warning: bus lanes are for buses. Avoiding a ticket is easy, just stay out of the bus lane,” said Annicaro.

The ABLE camera system began rolling out on MTA’s buses in 2019 following a successful pilot program. In the early days of the 51-bus deployment on the M15 SBS route, the bus-mounted system caught more than 1,500 vehicles in violation of the bus lane rules.

“We have seen how effective ABLE cameras are on the existing bus lanes,” said New York City Transit President Richard Davey. “Based on our recent customer survey, wait time and service reliability are two very important factors for our customers. Bus service delivery has been above 95 percent for the past three months. With the installation of these ABLE cameras, customers who travel on these routes can look forward to a faster commute.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.