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3/2/2009
New York City to Install Bus Lane Ticket Cameras
New York City to install bus lane ticket cameras to ticket cabs, despite rejection of camera proposal by New York legislature.

Mayor Bloombeg and TLC Chairman Daus (right)
New York City announced last Monday that it will install automated bus lane ticket cameras in defiance of a decision by the New York state legislature to reject the concept last year. Mayor Michael Bloomberg crafted a plan to bypass lawmakers and use the power of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to issue $150 tickets to cabs that are photographed straying momentarily into the specially marked lanes. Bloomberg hopes that once the camera program is operational he can convince lawmakers to give him the authority to expand the program beyond cabs, allowing every vehicle in the city to be ticketed.

"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," TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus said in a statement.

The commission is using its power over a cab driver's medallion -- the right to operate a taxi in New York City -- to ensure cab drivers pay the bus lane photo citations. With individual medallions selling at auction for $524,000, drivers will have little recourse after being declared guilty by a TLC administrative law judge.

The cameras will be installed on 34th Street between Park and 11th Avenues where lanes were painted red to indicate they could only be used by city buses. By reducing the space available to general purpose traffic, city officials also hoped to create enough congestion that motorists would be encouraged to exchange their personal automobiles for public bus rides. Future city Department of Transportation plans include taking away even more general purpose lanes on 34th Street to create pedestrian plazas. Those plans, however may be on hold until the city can generate enough revenue to cover the cost of the redesign. If London's experience with the bus lane camera concept is any guide, it would not take long to find the funding. London's first automated bus lane ticketing pilot project had generated 426,000 citations and more than £30 million (US $42 million) in revenue by 2005.



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