The MTA has mounted cameras on all Bx36 buses in hopes of clearing up clogged bus lanes and speeding up service.
The devices, which are called Automatic Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras, are mounted on buses and document drivers violating bus lane rules by capturing license plate information, photos and videos with timestamps.
Owners of vehicles caught driving, parking or standing in a bus lane get a Notice of Liability in about 30 days, according to NYC 311. The first violation carries a $50 fine, with subsequent offenses carrying $150, $200 and $250 in the same 12-month period.
“Automated camera enforcement is a crucial part of speeding up buses and allowing riders to get to school, work, appointments and everything else the city has to offer,” said Frank Annicaro, New York City Transit Department of Buses senior vice president. “These onboard cameras enable the MTA to enforce our bus lanes and is a proven and effective tool to increase compliance with the bus lanes.”
The Bx36 route, which spans from the Little Dominican Republic neighborhood in Upper Manhattan to the Castle Hill section of the Bronx, crosses the Washington Bridge before going up University Avenue and traversing across the borough on East Tremont Avenue before heading south on White Plains Road.
The bus travels across three sections of bus lanes: on 181st Street in Manhattan; University Avenue between the Washington Bridge and Tremont Avenue; and White Plains Road between Bruckner Boulevard and Lafayette Avenue, MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan told the Bronx Times.
Drivers will have a buffer to get used to the cameras, as the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) will just issue warnings in the first 60 days, as required by state law.
And the cameras won’t be a secret, as signs along the route will indicate the hours the bus lanes are in use and warn of the ABLE cameras.
The Bronx also has the bus mounted cameras on the Bx12, Bx19, Bx41 and Bx35 routes, MTA spokesperson Eugene Resnick told the Bronx Times.
The Bx36 will be the 503rd bus equipped with ABLE cameras across 18 routes in all five boroughs, according to the MTA.
The state Legislature first allowed NYC to use camera-based bus lane enforcement for Select Bus Service routes alone in 2010. In 2019, the policy was expanded to allow cameras for all bus lanes until 2025, according to a 2022 DOT report. The MTA launched its ABLE program that same year.
The DOT also has stationary bus lane cameras installed throughout the city, and the NYPD can issue $150 violations for driving in a bus lane.
In 2021 alone, the city issued 551,852 fixed bus lane camera violations garnering more than $36 million and 49,492 mobile camera violations garnering more than $4 million, according to the 2022 report.
“Customers tell us in survey after survey that raising bus speeds and shortening travel time will increase their satisfaction and encourage them to ride more often, and we have seen how effective ABLE cameras are on the existing bus lanes,” said New York City Transit President Richard Davey. “By activating ABLE cameras on the Bx36 bus route, over thirty thousand daily customers will benefit from faster and safer trips.”
New York State Assemblymember Kenny Burgos and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson both praised the new cameras.
“As my constituents rely heavily on buses, the activation of ABLE cameras is a great addition that will keep drivers and bus riders safe,” Burgos said.
The city and state transportation agencies are also looking at other ways to improve service for Bx36 riders, who struggle with slow and unreliable commutes with congestion and double parking littering their travels.
The MTA and DOT launched the Tremont Avenue Bus Priority Improvement study in December, which will assess potential road redesigns between Sedgwick Avenue and Boston Road to improve service for the bus line.
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes