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Bus Bulbs Useless Without Enforcement

10:34 AM EDT on April 27, 2007

bus_bulbs.jpgA story about the new bus bulbs on Lower Broadway in the New York Times highlights the role that enforcement will have to play if DOT's plan to make the boulevard more bus-friendly is to work. (Bus Rapid Transit, of course, will face similar issues when it rolls out later this year.) The story points out that Broadway's current bus lane -- bus bulbs or no -- is often blocked by double-parked delivery and placarded vehicles.

Note that at least one of the bus drivers quoted seems to see the virtues of eliminating cars entirely from this heavily trafficked area: 

David Woloch, a deputy transportation commissioner for the city, said that by early July the city will mark the lane that runs beside the bus bulbs as a bus-only lane, from Houston Street to Ann and Vesey Streets. And, he said, the Police Department will enforce the bus-only restriction by ticketing cars that encroach on the lane.

Bus drivers were skeptical.

"I think it's a waste," the driver of the M1 bus that was blocked by the cab and the double-parked truck said of the bus bulbs. He would not give his name because he said he did not want to draw the attention of his superiors at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "It's not going to do anything. Get rid of the cars and that'll do something."

On another day this week, a driver on another M1 bus was also skeptical. He said that the police do not do enough to enforce bus lanes elsewhere in the city. "That's never worked," said the driver, who also asked that his name not be used. "It doesn't work on Madison. It doesn't work on Fifth Avenue because people park in the lane. Or cabs drop off in the lane."

Paul J. Browne, a deputy police commissioner, said 1,862 ticketswere issued last year to drivers for using a bus lane. In addition,4,205 tickets were issued for parking in a bus lane and 2,669 ticketswere issued for parking at a bus stop.

That works out to justunder 24 tickets a day in the three categories of tickets combined. Hesaid the tickets were primarily issued in Manhattan.

So far this year, he said, 3,537 tickets have been issued for bus lane or bus stop violations.

"Itmay be a perception among some drivers, but in fact there isenforcement," Mr. Browne said of the bus drivers' complaints. "It maynot be at the level they want or in an ideal world the level we want,but the fact remains we do enforce it every day."

Photo: Cary Conover for the New York Times

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