Double-Take Time: Bus Cam Bill Clears Assembly Transpo Committee

You read that right.

Don't celebrate just yet, but legislation authorizing the use of camera enforcement to keep New York City bus lanes clear of traffic -- a.k.a. the bus cam bill -- just cleared the Assembly Transportation Committee.

silver_gantt.jpgSheldon Silver and David Gantt.
While it might seem sort of pathetic to tout a committee vote in Albany that gets New York City one step closer to effective enforcement of the laws on its own streets, it's also worth recalling that very similar legislation died in the same committee two years ago. The bill still has to clear the Codes Committee, the Rules Committee, the full Assembly, and the full State Senate, but the fact that it has cleared Rochester Democrat David Gantt's Transportation Committee strongly indicates that Speaker Sheldon Silver intends to let the bill pass in his house.

With NYCDOT and the MTA relying on enforcement, not separated lanes, to keep traffic from interfering with transit service on their rapid bus corridors, cameras will be critical to success. After camera enforcement was enacted in London, average travel speeds in bus lanes improved 12.6 percent, according to NYCDOT. For now, the prospects for better bus service on the city's dedicated lanes are looking pretty good. (Successful passage of the bus cam bill could also free up NYPD resources to enforce other traffic violations, like failure-to-yield to pedestrians or bike lane blocking.)

We'll have more information on the committee vote later today.

Update: Our man in Albany, Alan Wechsler, files this bit of color from what appears to have been an utterly bland and uneventful committee hearing:

The bill received no discussion during the short meeting. After the meeting, Chairman David Gantt (D-Rochester) declined to comment about why the bill had been held up before.