The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City (NYC) Transit and New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will be using automated mobile camera systems on buses starting Oct. 7 to capture real-time bus lane violations on the M15 Select Bus Service route as part of citywide efforts to increase bus speeds and keep traffic moving.
NYC Transit is using an Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) system on 51 buses that travel on the M15 SBS route using a dedicated bus lane implemented by NYCDOT. ABLE camera systems can capture evidence such as license plate information, photos and videos, as well location and timestamp information, of vehicles obstructing bus lanes to document clear cases of bus lane violation. The system collects multiple pieces of evidence to ensure that vehicles making permitted turns from bus lanes are not ticketed. This information will be transmitted to NYCDOT for review and processing, and the program will be administered in partnership with NYCDOT and the NYC Department of Finance.
“Automated bus lane enforcement is a critical part of our plan to increase bus speeds because transit priority improvements do not work if motorists do not respect their purpose or abide by traffic laws,” said MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “We need to give our buses every fighting chance to get through the city’s congested streets.”
“We hear from our customers all the time that buses get stuck in traffic because there are many vehicles on the streets blocking stops and moving lanes,” said Craig Cipriano, acting MTA Bus Company president and senior vice president for buses of NYC Transit. “This is why we are working with our city partners to find ways of prioritizing buses and keeping streets clear so that everyone can move faster.”
“Under Mayor de Blasio’s Better Buses Action Plan, we have committed to increase citywide bus speeds 25 percent by the end of 2020 – and to get there, we will need to step up automated enforcement to keep vehicles out of the more than 100 miles of dedicated bus lanes we have built around the city,” said NYCDOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “For years, we have had overhead cameras along routes like the M15, but adding enforcement cameras to the buses themselves will now help us further keep bus lanes clear – allowing tens of thousands of commuters to keep moving. And we know that improvement in bus travel times consistently lead to ridership increases. We thank NYCT President Andy Byford and all our partners at the MTA for their partnership as we strengthen this essential enforcement program, serving the New Yorkers who take more than 2 million daily bus trips.”
Motorists who block bus lanes are first issued a warning with a 60-day grace period when no fines are assessed, beginning Oct. 7. After the grace period ends, motorists who continue to block bus lanes will be subject to a fine of $50 for each violation, which also carries a $25 late fee. The automated bus lane enforcement program will expand to the B44 SBS and M14 SBS by the end of November, with the ABLE system to be deployed on a total of 123 buses across the three routes. The expansion to the M14 SBS is dependent upon the resolution of ongoing litigation.
The ABLE system was tested in a successful pilot program evaluating the efficacy of the mobile cameras. The pilot determined that an ABLE system could capture sufficient evidence to enforce traffic violations. Funding for further expansion of the program is included in the proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan.
NYC Transit is working with NYCDOT and New York Police Department 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. Results so far have yielded faster bus speeds by as much as 19 percent on a portion of Fifth Avenue 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.
Let’s have this for bike lane blockers.Meanwhile, while Toronto (and Ontario) is just "talking" about cameras enforcing traffic infractions on transit vehicles...
Automated bus lane traffic enforcement begins October 7 with new camera technology on MTA buses
All vehicles on M15 select bus service routes equipped with new automated enforcement system to keep bus lanes clear.
The problem is that the fines are low. For companies and the rich, its petty cash or pocket change. The fines should increase for each infraction and be based on income. Unfortunately, that will not happen because of the lobbyists.Let’s have this for bike lane blockers.
I remember in Manhattan walking from Central Park and watching two NYPD parking enforcement guys cycling behind UPS trucks and issuing a ticket each time they stopped to make a delivery. I think I saw six tickets go to the same driver. The courier and shredder companies just see these fines as a cost of business. How will bus lane violations be any different?
True enforcement would be vehicle seizure and a fine equal to the economic value of the violation. Multiple violations should result in permanent vehicle confiscation and auction.
The fines should be adjusted according to the driver's income or net worth. I think in some countries like Finland it's done that way. Just last week I saw a parking cop hand a ticket to a guy driving a Lamborghini. The driver got out, crumpled up the ticket and tossed it on the ground laughing, telling the cop "Hey, maybe you should give me a few more tickets buddy - I can afford it!" The cop just walked away.The problem is that the fines are low. For companies and the rich, its petty cash or pocket change. The fines should increase for each infraction and be based on income. Unfortunately, that will not happen because of the lobbyists.
The bus stop isn't there. That spot is for the 504 only. The 503 picks up passengers at a separate stop at the corner of York. And the bus was not picking anyone up. The driver is not even inside it. You can see him outside chit-chatting with another 503 driver who is also idling there. Sometimes there are five 503 buses sitting and waiting to actually go out and drive. The running time for the route has clearly been made ridiculously higher than what is needed as they can't even find places to stack the extra buses now.That's standard operating procedure for buses replacing streetcars to pick up at the curb.
Ther are several projects that have caused the 503 bus to make some detours from its normal routingThe bus stop isn't there. That spot is for the 504 only. The 503 picks up passengers at a separate stop at the corner of York. And the bus was not picking anyone up. The driver is not even inside it. You can see him outside chit-chatting with another 503 driver who is also idling there. Sometimes there are five 503 buses sitting and waiting to actually go out and drive. The running time for the route has clearly been made ridiculously higher than what is needed as they can't even find places to stack the extra buses now.
New York City has been steadily taking space away from cars since the first pedestrian plazas were carved out of the asphalt streetscape more than a decade ago.
Roads that were once the exclusive domain of cars have been squeezed to make way for bike and bus-only lanes. Prime parking spots have been turned into urban green spaces. Traffic lights give pedestrians a head start crossing intersections.
Now, city officials are taking their most ambitious stand yet against cars: Beginning Thursday, passenger cars, including taxis and Ubers, will be all but banned from one of Manhattan’s busiest streets, 14th Street, a major crosstown route for 21,000 vehicles a day that links the East and West Sides.
The traffic experiment got off to an orderly but soggy start at 6 a.m. with traffic officers in neon yellow slickers stationed at intersections along 14th Street. They waved buses through while turning cars away. Patrol cars with blinking lights crawled up and down the street.
Drivers seemed to follow the new rules, at least for now. One car braked abruptly while trying to turn off Third Avenue onto 14th Street. Traffic officers stepped back to let the car through, but signaled that it had to make the next right off the street.
Some bus riders were already enjoying quicker commutes with cars largely cleared out of the way, which is a main goal of the new restrictions.
“It’s pretty fast now. Buses are moving a lot faster,” said Steven Colon, 25, a customer assistant at a grocery store, who commutes to work by bus along 14th Street. “This is a good idea because a lot of people double park and it causes a lot of congestion.”
From now on, drivers are allowed onto 14th Street only to make deliveries and pick up and drop off passengers from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. They can travel just a block or two before they have to turn right off the street. No left turns are allowed. The police will give out warnings at first and surveillance cameras will be watching.
“It’s not that cars are losing ground, it’s that New Yorkers are gaining ground, literally,” said Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group for transit riders. “We make the city what it is. Cars get in the way."
The city’s campaign to make its streets less welcoming to cars has drawn an increasingly intense backlash from drivers, businesses and residents who have gone to court to stop some of the efforts, including the new rules along 14th Street.
“It’s a big inconvenience,” said Richard Small, a New Jersey commuter who will now have to drive five blocks out of his way to get to work on 14th Street. “I think it’s extreme and there should be a compromise. Everybody pays taxes — not just the people in the buses.”
New York’s traffic experiment comes as cities across the world are taking a harder line against cars. Cars are no longer being allowed to roam freely as traffic chokes the streets, contributes to climate change and threatens the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
Paris has banned cars from the city center one Sunday a month. Barcelona has reorganized some streets into superblocks where intersections now serve as playgrounds and cars are pushed to the edges. London charges drivers a hefty congestion fee for entering the busiest neighborhoods — a move that New York will follow when it becomes the first American city to introduce congestion pricing in Manhattan in 2021.
Toronto was the model for New York’s 14th Street experiment. In 2017, it restricted cars from driving across a 1.6-mile stretch of King Street to clear the way for streetcars. Since then, streetcar speeds have increased and service has become more reliable, though some restaurants and stores have lost business.
New York, which has 6,000 miles of streets, once catered to cars by building a network of roadways that still cuts through the city. But that car-centric view later shifted as the city struggled with worsening gridlock that has crippled its public bus system, whose ridership is in decline.
Today, pedestrians and cyclists elbow for more space alongside cars. Ride-hailing apps have ushered in Ubers and Lyfts, and Amazon has helped fuel a 24/7 armada of delivery trucks.
The 14th Street busway is the centerpiece of the city’s efforts to turn a one-mile stretch of the street, between Third and Ninth Avenues, into a transit corridor that will improve bus reliability and perhaps attract more riders.
Bus speeds along 14th Street are among the slowest in the nation, crawling at an average of 4.5 miles per hour. Daily bus ridership along the street has fallen to 28,000 from 38,000 in the past decade.
“New York City is failing bus riders on a daily basis and we are hemorrhaging riders as a result,” said Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker whose district includes 14th Street. “People are getting off buses and into cars, which is unacceptable as we try to fight climate change by encouraging green modes of transportation.”
Juliana Santos, 42, a medical assistant, said she would have more time — and less stress — if the buses moved faster and did not get stuck behind cars. A seven- to eight-minute crosstown bus ride can easily stretch to twice that, or longer. “If you don’t get those delays, you’d be on time anywhere you go,” she said.
The 14th Street busway had been twice delayed by lawsuits brought by local residents and block associations, but was allowed to go forward last week after a panel of judges lifted a previous order blocking it.
The busway grew out of the contingency planning for the shutdown of the L train, which travels between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Although transit officials called off the shutdown in January, the plans for the busway remained.
Now, the restrictions are part of an 18-month pilot program that could be made permanent. Curbside parking spots have been eliminated and replaced by loading zones. After the initial warnings, drivers who ignore the restrictions will receive tickets carrying fines starting at $50.
Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, said the “new busway will be a big boost” for bus riders, “creating more reliable commutes with shorter travel times.”
Along 14th Street, lanes have been painted red and designated for buses and trucks only. Trucks and emergency vehicles will still be allowed across.
At a parking garage on 14th Street, Thomas McDarby, 74, a hair dresser, was not happy as he got into his sedan to drive to work in New Jersey. He pays $550 a month to park there, and was already worried about how to get back home.
“I’m so confused now with these regulations,” he said. “I don’t really know what the regulations are now. It just happened very quickly. It’s just a hassle. There was no way to plan ahead. Plan ahead and do what, sell the car?”
Some local businesses and workers have opposed the traffic experiment, saying that they could lose customers who drive. “It’s not good for business,” said Francisco Lopez, an attendant at a garage on 14th Street. “Everybody’s complaining about it.”
Ray Raddy, the manager of Crossroads Wine & Spirits, said he worried that some customers would find it easier to buy their wine at a store where they can drive right up and park outside. “If I’m a customer and I’m not comfortable coming here,” he said, “I’ll go somewhere else.”
But others were elated the busway had finally arrived.
Ben Rubenstein, 37, an assistant high school principal, said his morning commute usually stretched out because he had to allow extra time in case his bus hit traffic. “I usually wake up earlier so that I can avoid traffic on the cross town bus,” he said.
Not anymore. On Thursday, Mr. Rubenstein reached his school early.
“Ten minutes faster than I expected,” he said.
Indeedthe lack of raised platforms is probably the main part, just feels weird walking on the street.I have to say I would like to see more transit riders on King standing out in that space to "claim it." I get that shouldn't be necessary, but I make a point to stand right out in the corner of the box to let drivers know that, yes, this space is for me, not you. It's weird how coming up on two years into the pilot I still see 50 people waiting for the streetcar at rush hour, and 47 of them are standing back on the sidewalk.
Calgary did it successfully, and crams 300,000 people per day through one downtown corridor with level crossing intersections downtown.Does anyone REALLY think we will see double length streetcars on the existing surface routes here? I personally doubt it as there would be far too much chance of them blocking intersections. Better to sort out the route management to make best use of the cars we have and buy more of them.
Step 1: elect real pro-transit politicians (both MPPs, Councillors, and Mayor)Calgary did it successfully, and crams 300,000 people per day through one downtown corridor with level crossing intersections downtown.
And, in 2020/1 thru 2025, we are doing it in Hamilton -- look at what we're doing with Hamilton LRT!
Two-coupled LRVs in a Toronto King Street Pilot style corridor! We're putting essentially a double-length streetcar into our own King Street here (a 1-way car street), kicking cars off 2 lanes of street. If we are about to do that, so probably can Toronto (eventually -- at least in a 25 year time window, post condo-densification).
Granted, there's quite a bit of prep needed
1. Dealing with side streets. We're banning left turns from all non-signalled side streets.
2. Curbing off the LRT lanes all the way between signalled intersections
3. Addition of appropriate transit priority systems at the signalled intersections.
It won't happen today but could happen within 25 years to eventually King turned into true-LRT corridor end-to-end, once the following happens:
A. Several LRTs gets built and Toronto residents "finally get it" (streetcar path to true LRT) and starts demanding/voting towards it.
B. Superdensification continues for another 25 years.
C. True transit priority optimization (0.5km curbed + true transit priority + leftturns curbed-off at all non-signalled intersections + farside stops)
D. Funding happens at least one level of government to make it happen
True metro-speed (non-metro but still metro-speed) surface transit can succeed with:
(1) Car-free tracks
(2) Far-side platforms so streetcars coast through green lights before picking up passengers
(3) Reliable green-light transit priority; which requires:
(2a) Left turns blocked-off from minor side streets
(2b) Plenty of curbed-off coast distance between surface intersections, about 0.5km-ish
(2c) Allows enough time for countdown crosswalks to finish before green light to let full speed streetcars reach their next stop reliably.
This is the metro-speed metro-frequency non-metro system used elsewhere in the world:
<LOOP>...Streetcar accelerates from previous stop. Complete curbed stretch all the way to next stop, nothing blocking the way. Streetcar arrival at next traffic intersection hereby predictably predicted. Beep. Now, 0.5km away atthe next traffic light auto-adjusts next timing. Its crosswalk countdown begins appropriately well within Ontario specs.....tram/streetcar/LRV approaching....countdown finished....traffic intersection clear for the rail....green light for rail.....5 seconds later....WHOOOSH.....streetcar whooshes through intersection.....and decelerates at the far-side platform stop.....majority of deceleration primarily for stops even at peak period......rinse and repeat.....</LOOP>
Toronto has not yet upgraded to this transit priority system, but they're being used NOW, already, TODAY, elsewhere in the world.
The design system of "farside+spacing+predictable" logic that allows reliable metro speeds both offpeak+onpeak of much more reliable green light transit priority systems. Some of them intelligently stretches the green light period for cars when it knows no streetcars are approaching for a while, so it can smartly compensate for the well-timed green lights by smarter design with the within-safefty-margin of lengthenings/shortenings (within specifications) of green/reds with no interference to crosswalk countdown lengths.
Many peasants see "transit priority systems" and wonder why they don't always work well. Look closely. Some of them work spectacularly well and others don't work well at all. And I am here to tell you -- most of Toronto's transit priority systems is crappily designed. But they won't always be permanently that way; given the societal path, demographics, ever-expanding downtown transit needs, continued superdensification, familiarity with other Ontario LRTs, etc - eventually something gives, and people are going to increasingly ask "why isn't King doing it?" Then ten, twenty, thirty years later, the domino falls....
There are solutions for intersection blockages at peak -- e.g. cars that creap through. Some of them use traffic-blockage cameras to enforce "keeping the box clear" so that intersections are not blocked when it's red light for cars.
These kinds of solutions are cheap, it's already being done, and it already pushes 6-figure people per hour through surface intersections, and Toronto can do it, full stop. It's just a matter of time when the resistance buckles and it happens -- whether be 10 years, 25 years, or 50 years, thanks to superdensification and the need for a low-lying apple metro-speed metro-capacity route even if it is a non-metro route. As long as a city is (eventually, grudgingly, slowly) willing to give up some car capacity on a specific street.
We'll still need all the other stuff (RER, Ontario Line, etc) but that's no reason to not consider upgrading a streetcar route to 6-figure ridership per day. It's done, it's doable, and it's simple transit-corridor engineering.
At some point it's quite possible:
2025: They rebuild King corridor to a transit-only corridor (urbanization)
2030+: Building owners start slowly building alternate accesses and solutions
2040: Curbs added and fully ban all vehicles (except emergency vehicles), ban all left turns except at signalled intersections, etc.
2050: Phase 2 rebuild of King extends to 60-meter 2-LRV and raised level boarding platforms.
Or some kind of similar progression, whether be 2040 or 2140. I think it's inevtable given Toronto's superdensification status, Canada's favoured-country status, and the infinitely increasing demand for transit in the coming decades. It won't happen in a few years or even 10 years, but, it's a pretty damn obvious low lying apple in humankind progress this century to gain a metro-speed metro-frequency non-metro route.
In short -- the continued superdensification plus the upcoming big boom of Ontario LRT to inspire residents to vote for the true King LRT eventually.
For less than a billion dollars -- metro-frequency metro-speed "non-metro" surface route that becomes true rapid transit in speed. Even faster and more reliable than today's King Pilot (and that's without raising speed limits for streetcars).
I do drive a car and I understand "You'll take my car keys out of my dead hands" mentality on keeping King accessible to cars -- however, we're already successfully pushed through a King Transit Priority (Phase 1). What I am talking about is really Kind True LRT (Phase 3) stuff. long after the King First Rebuild (Phase 2) stuff that does initial things like build streetcar stops with curbs stretched all the way out (possibly even raised to level boarding to 1 streetcar), rebuild the sidewalks, etc.
Again, the 2-LRV consist stuff would only be be two King rebuilds later.
There are cities in the world that accomplished 6-figure ridership on a single downtown surface rail route. The huge gain in capacity this affords (especially with raised level-boarding platforms, ION LRT style and Hamilton LRT style), is already an option once Toronto is slowly eventually ready to optimize this corridor.