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NYC Installs Traffic Cameras To Keep Bus Lanes Clear

Surveillance cameras began monitoring drivers who enter or block bus lanes on November 22, 2010. (Photo Credit: CBS 2)

Surveillance cameras began monitoring drivers who enter or block bus lanes on November 22, 2010. (Photo Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Surveillance cameras began monitoring drivers who enter or block bus lanes on Monday, and if the electronic eye catches you, get ready to pay a steep fine.

New bus lane video cameras along First and Second Avenues watch for cars blocking buses by sitting idly in the lanes, helping to keep the path clear for buses.

“If you’re going to go express to a certain place, it’s going to help,” Queensbridge resident Ida Montilla said.

“The buses are good, they move faster, but the cars don’t,” said Percy Raymond of Astoria.

The video cameras are monitored full-time to catch the license plates of violators. Stopping or off-loading in the bus lanes is prohibited during posted hours, and fines of between $115 and $150 would go out in the mail.

The cameras have done the job so far, with mostly clear bus lanes on Monday, but some are complaining that an empty bus lane means more traffic in the other lanes.

“They make their own problems, they make problems for everybody else,” Astoria resident Ken Beuscher said.

Critics anticipate more traffic congestion, not less, particularly since there’s some gray area. Drivers can drop off or pick up a passenger at the curb if there’s no alternative, like around the corner. Those needing to make a right turn by using the bus lane are permitted, as long as they don’t stay in the lane.

So will the lanes spur a dramatic decrease in congestion? The jury’s still out.

“You’ll still be late, you’ll still be late,” Montilla said.

Just five cameras were up and running on Monday, but more are on the way. The MTA estimates the new restrictions could save as much as 15 minutes of travel time.