NEW YORK - There’s been a lot of praise from bus riders about improved service across 14th Street since the city banned most cars from the crosstown thoroughfare.
The city and the MTA hope new cameras on the M14 buses will improve service even more.
The cameras can record a vehicle's location and license plate information. That information is then transmitted to the Department of Transportation for review. The owners of cars blocking buses will then be sent tickets.
“I think it’s a great idea because busses in New York, if you’re a New Yorker, have a really bad rap,” said one regular bus rider.
The MTA installed the cameras on the M14 buses in November. For 60 days, violators only got warnings. But the grace period ended at 6:00 AM Tuesday. Now, violating the rules will cost $50 for a first offense and $100 for the second. The fines keep increasing from there.
The MTA says since the bus way went into effect in October, trips on the M14 are 36 percent faster and ridership is up 19 percent during the week.
Only busses and emergency vehicles are allowed on 14 Street between Third and Eighth Avenues from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. Other vehicles can make drop offs and pickups, but they must make the next available right turn off 14 Street.
Suzette Burgess rides the bus and drives. When she's behind the wheel, she hates the 14 Street Busway. “It’s really hard I tried to attend an event the other day on Ninth Avenue trying not to go on 14th Street with my car was almost impossible.”
After commuting on the M14 every morning, though, her opinion is completely different.
“As a bus rider, it’s easier. The bus comes really quickly,” Burgess said.
The MTA has so far installed these cameras on 123 buses that use 14th Street. It plans to add the cameras to busses across the city over the next several years. The MTA has budgeted $85 million in its new capital plan to expand the program.