New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, MTA Executive Director Lee Sander and Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman/Commissioner Matthew Daus today announced that in a new effort to speed public transit through Midtown, the City will begin video camera enforcement of the new bus lanes on 34th Street to show evidence if New York City taxis are improperly using the lanes and violating (TLC) rules that taxis obey all traffic laws. Under the City traffic code, taxis are permitted to enter a bus lane only to make the next right turn or to expeditiously pick-up/drop-off passengers. Opened in September, the high-visibility bus lanes run along the curb from 1st to 11th Avenues. The test camera location, on 34th between Park and Madison Avenues, is the first of three that will be used for the six-month trial, and it is the first use of a camera for traffic enforcement aside from the 100 red-light cameras in operation citywide.
"Our efforts to improve traffic conditions and increase mobility are needed perhaps nowhere more urgently than in Midtown Manhattan," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Some 30,000 daily passengers on 30 bus routes depend on these high-visibility bus lanes, and cameras offer us a powerful new tool to keep the network from breaking down and causing gridlock on 34th Street and across Midtown."
"Thanks to a strong and productive partnership with the DOT and TLC, we are making important advances to improve bus service in one of the most congested parts of town," said Elliot G. Sander, Executive Director and CEO of the MTA. "The initial success we have had with Select Bus Service shows that with an innovative partnership in place, it is possible to make significant improvements for MTA customers, no matter what the economic climate. We look forward to continuing to work with DOT and TLC to make even more improvements to our customersâ€™ rides."
"While the vast majority of taxicab and for-hire drivers obey and respect the law, those few that abuse bus lanes have a negative effect on the traffic flow for all motorists, including their fellow professional drivers," said Matthew Daus, TLC Commissioner/Chairman. "This program provides a needed deterrent to ensure the free flow of traffic for the benefit of all, including taxi drivers."
This method of camera enforcement is permissible under the TLC adjudicatory process and does not require legislative approval. The City continues to pursue state legislation to allow for the expansion of locations for red-light cameras, and also for bus lane cameras to issue violations to all vehicles that encroach on bus lanes. DOT will submit images to TLC to show photographic evidence of a violation, along with an affidavit from the video reviewer. TLC will then use the images to issue a summons to the taxi medallion owner. TLC summonses are adjudicated before TLC administrative law judges. If found in violation, cab owners can be fined $150. DOT will be able to move the cameras to other parts of 34th during the trial and will be able to gather data on what types of vehicles are violating the bus lanes rules.
Last summer, 34th Street from 1st to 11th Avenue was restriped from six lanes to five, with the two curbside lanes painted in bright terra cotta color. Non-transit vehicles in the bus lanes which are not making right turns are subject to citation by police.
A major transit corridor, 34th Street is used by about 30 bus lines, carrying about 17,000 local bus passengers and 14,000 express bus passengers daily, as well as a great number of private buses. The following bus lines along all or portions of the nearly two-mile street: M4, M16, M34, Q32, BM5, QM1, QM1A, QM2, QM2A, QM3, QM4, QM10, QM11,QM12, QM15, QM16, QM17, QM18, QM21, QM22, QM23, QM24, X22, X23 X24, X31, X51, X63, X64, X68.
To further improve the lane, DOT and MTA/New York City Transit are exploring as well as off-board fare collection, and plans for an eventual Transitway along 34th Street. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/dot
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