Signage for bus lane enforcement (Source: DOT)

Signage for bus lane enforcement (Source: DOT)

The B44 Select Bus Service route on Nostrand Avenue became the latest in the city to feature camera-enforced bus lanes, but a snag in mailing out violations and the functioning of the cameras themselves has caused drivers unaware of the new restrictions to receive dozens of violations months after the incident.

The Department of Finance and Department of Transportation conceded that the agencies had failed to send out the tickets in a timely manner, catching drivers unaware and allowing them to repeat the mistake.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch won the concessions from the agencies, who are now agreeing to suspend mailing and to review all violation that occurred on the route between March 17 and July 25. Motorists will still be fined, but only for the first violation they received, and refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.

“When people get a violation, it’s to educate them that they did something unlawful and they have to stop,” Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites. “Having it come to them three or four months later doesn’t serve that purpose. Given that it’s the newest SBS bus lane, a lot of people still don’t understand how it should be used even though there are signs posted.”

Deutsch said the cameras were also taking multiple photos of the same vehicles, causing additional violations for the same incident. He said the DOT has corrected that problem.

During active hours, a vehicle may only enter the bus lane to make a right turn, drop off passengers, or make or receive a delivery. More about bus lanes can be found in this DOT handout.

The violation carries a $125 fine, but with motorists unaware of the changes and not receiving the summonses promptly, they were fined multiple times. Deutsch said one constituent received approximately $7,000 in fines. He added that about two dozen constituents have already reported this problem to him, “but there’s a lot more.”

Camera enforcement on the route will remain in effect, but the agencies said they will go through their records and contact those who received multiple violations. If you think you’re one of them, you can speed up the process of having the summonses tossed or receiving a refund by calling Deutsch’s district office at (718) 368-9176.

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  • UnderTheEl

    Wow! this is great news from our city councilman! Thank you Chaim Deutsch for advocating for us!

  • mr

    I would like to publicly thank Councilman Chaim Deutsch for his hard work and efforts on behalf of the community. Recently, many people from across Brooklyn were unfairly ticketed with thousands of dollars in erroneous bus lane violations, myself among them.

    Dozens of residents were entangled in this complex issue and completely clueless how to proceed. Upon being contacted, Councilman Deutsch spearheaded the initiative to work with the DOT in dismissing these tickets – which he managed to accomplish less than a week.

    More impressively, he successfully advocated on the behalf of the people. We must publicly express our appreciation Councilman Deutsch and thank him for his ability to achieve genuine results for the community as a whole.

    • Arniethek

      Well said. But I’d like to know when the councilman plans to gavel his Education subcommittee on private schools into session. The committee which Coucilman Deutsch chairs and is the only member has yet to meet. He receives an $8,000 salary differential for chairing the committee.

  • Alex

    I think Chaim Deutsch is a great Councilman. He truly supports our community and does what he can in his power to improve our beloved Sheepshead Bay area.
    Keep up a good work, Councilman.

  • guest

    Now he just needs to get the B44 back to normal without this wasteful SBS garbage and return the street to two lanes as it should be.

  • Street Equity

    It would be nice if Council Member Deutsch advocated for the thousands of bus riders inconvenienced by these scofflaw drivers.

    • guest

      What exactly are these scofflaw drivers doing to you? Who the hell does the MTA think it is that it’s entitled to it’s own lane on a heavily used road which creates chaos? Who the hell doe the MTA thnk they are where they get away with murder charging drivers and straphangers alike outrageous prices to get to and from? The only reason this ridiculous route exist is to generate revenue off the back of everyday people.

      • Subway Stinker

        I think “Guest” has a “potty” mouth, using ‘hell” multiple times and Guest has anger management issues too. I agree with Street Equity that selfish motorists are causing extra traffic in our dedicated bus lanes and bad drivers who park in bus stops. Give out more tickets.

        • Guest

          I want a dedicated rollerblading lane carved out of the bicycle lane.

          • http://brooklyngarbage.com Phil Rosenthal

            you know what they say about rollerblading

          • Kriston Lewis

            Nothing’s preventing you from rollerblading in the bicycle lane.

            On a serious note, I’ve seen a lot of them around here, never noticed them elsewhere in the city…

          • Guest

            I just don’t feel safe doing it in the same lane as bicycles. They move substantially faster than I can rollerblade. I think it’s only right that I should have a safe way to commute to work by rollerblade.

      • Andrew

        What exactly are these scofflaw drivers doing to you?

        Delaying his our her bus.

        Who the hell does the MTA think it is that it’s entitled to it’s own lane on a heavily used road which creates chaos?

        Street space is allotted by DOT, not by the MTA. And I see nothing wrong with DOT opting to dedicate an exclusive lane to buses carrying 50 people, so that they can get past the traffic caused by drivers in cars mostly carrying one or two.

        But whether you like it or not, the bus lane is in place, and if you choose to drive in it, you can expect to be fined. Yes, drivers really are expected to obey the law, believe it or not.

        Who the hell doe the MTA thnk they are where they get away with murder charging drivers and straphangers alike outrageous prices to get to and from?

        $2.38 per bus ride including a free transfer to the subway, or $112 for unlimited rides for a month, is hardly an outrageous price. (It’s a fraction of the cost of driving, especially if you’re stupid enough to drive on a bus lane and rack up ticket after ticket.)

        The only reason this ridiculous route exist is to generate revenue off the back of everyday people.

        If you can’t pay the fine, don’t do the crime.

        This “ridiculous route” is one of the busiest in the city, and its riders shouldn’t be forced to sit (or stand) through traffic jams caused by too many motorists driving cars.

        • BrooklynBus

          South of Avenue U it carries only a half dozen riders during the rush hour and is a total waste of valuable resources when other routes are so crowded that buses regularly flag passengers.

          The bus lane in Sheepshead Bay is also unnecessary because the traffic is light. The lane does not save the buses any time. The words “right turns only” are written in such small letters, they cannot even be read from a moving vehicle.

          • Andrew

            I have no idea why you’re focusing on the short bit of bus lane south of Avenue X when by far the majority of the bus lane mileage is north of the Junction.

            You’re comparing loads on the B36 near its peak load point to loads on the B44 quite far from its peak load point. Of course the B36 is more crowded in that area. Nobody expected otherwise. Every line has some segments that are more crowded than others; the B44 even has short-turns at Avenue U, so the south end of the line gets significantly less service than the busier middle.

          • Allan Rosen

            I am focusing on the short bus unnecessary bus lane because I see it in operation. I have not yet seen the other bus lane up north, so I don’t make any comments about it.

            No one needs 60 foot buses to carry 6 passengers either when more service is needed on the B36. Short turns to Sheepshead Bay Station need to be reinstituted. Why do you think the car services are thriving there? The MTA does not consider that part of demand. They only appeared when te short turns were discontinued in the 1980s or 1990s.

          • Andrew

            You haven’t yet seen the other bus lane (the one that covers almost the entire route north of the Junction) yet? You’ve written column after column after column about it, but over eight months into the service, you still haven’t been curious enough to ride the line north of the Junction?!

            Nobody claims that 60 foot buses are needed at the south end of the line. They’re needed at the peak load point. Every bus line has some sections emptier than others.

          • Speeder

            Don’t underestimate the traffic calming potential of double parked cars and delivery trucks — without the bus lane, the commercial section of Nostrand Avenue is sometimes reduced to one lane due to double parking.

            You should also pass by Avenue Z at around 8am to 9am, as buses drop full loads of fine scholars from upscale neighborhoods to the prestigious Sheepshead Bay High School.

        • ShutupAndrew

          Go away uninformed hipster.

          • Andrew

            Congratulations for making my point.

            How many hipsters have you seen on the B44, by the way?

          • Kriston Lewis

            A good bunch actually.

            Surprises me a bit, I thought you guys cycled everywhere.

          • Andrew

            I’m not aware of a formal definition of “hipster,” so you can call whoever you like a hipster. But the neighborhoods traversed by the B44 are not generally neighborhoods conventionally thought of to be home to large quantities of hipsters.

            Not sure who “you guys” is supposed to refer to. I don’t know how to ride a bike; it’s certainly not how I get around anywhere let alone everywhere.

    • Andrew

      Does Council Member Deutsch ever rife the bus? I would guess not, except maybe once in a while as a publicity stunt.

      • BrooklynBus

        You can guess. That’s okay. Did you ask him? Everyone else needs to show proof. And anecdotes are never enough for you. You need data collected over time.

        • Andrew

          I have no objection to speculation labeled as speculation. Elected officials generally drive at a significantly higher rate than their constituents, and Deutsch’s response to this incident suggests that he is no exception.

          He could have responded to this incident by working to ensure that tickets get sent out in a more timely fashion in the future. He could have responded by reminding his constituent motorists that driving in the bus lane is illegal. Instead he responded by getting most of the tickets dismissed. I suspect that he’d be thrilled if he could get all future tickets dismissed as well, forever and ever. (And commenters “UnderTheEl” and “mr” and “Alex” and “guest” would no doubt agree.)

          If Deutsch regularly got around by bus, perhaps he would have advocated for his bus rider constituents.

          • Allan Rosen

            Mr Deutsch was perfectly correct in his response. The purpose of summonses as he put it is to let drivers know they cannot get away with driving in the bus lane. Sending out summonses three months after the fact, does not accomplish that purpose. Revenue is generated that would not have been generated if he notices were timely because motorists would not repeat the offense.

            His response will ensure more timely issuance of summonses. It is not his responsibility to send out the summonses, so to state he could have done more is ridiculous.

            Your speculation that he drives more than his constituents or that he would be thrilled if he could get all future tickets dismissed is just as ridiculous. As a councilman, if that were the case, he would just have to find alternate revenue sources. You have no idea hoe often he may use a bus, or how many of his constituents never set foot in a bus or train.

          • Andrew

            Mr Deutsch was perfectly correct in his response.

            No surprise that you would think so.

            Your speculation that he drives more than his constituents or that he would be thrilled if he could get all future tickets dismissed is just as ridiculous.

            I said that elected officials GENERALLY drive at a significantly higher rate than their constituents, which is correct.

            As a councilman, if that were the case, he would just have to find alternate revenue sources.

            Since when have New York City council members ever worried about that?

          • BrooklynBus

            NYC council members don’t have to worry about the budget? That’s news to me. You are only speculating that elected officials drive more than your constituents. You have no proof. But I forgot, you don’t need proof. It’s others who can’t speculate in Andrew’s world.

  • a good neighbor

    “Given that it’s the newest SBS bus lane, a lot of people still don’t understand how it should be used even though there are signs posted.”

    those people either fail in English or are complete retard not understanding what the sign says.

    • Andrew

      Oh, they can read quite well. They are just of the belief – as are many commenters here – that drivers are entitled to do whatever the hell they want, regardless of the consequences to others, regardless of the law.

      We see it with bus lane enforcement, we see it with red light enforcement, we see it with speed limit enforcement, we see it with parking enforcement. These people come out of the woodwork in opposition to any and every form of enforcement of driving laws. Some of them even claim to be experts.

      • BrooklynBus

        Sending out violations three months after they occur, is not proper. Notices need to be sent out right away. Somebody could have allowed somebody else to drive his car and asking him to remember that three months later is not fair.

        • Andrew

          No, sending out violations three months after they occur is not proper, but driving in the bus lane is both improper and illegal. I don’t think most drivers have trouble keeping track of who borrows their cars. (Was the upstanding citizen who racked up $7000 in fines – i.e., whose car was caught on camera violating the bus lane 56 times – operating an illegal car rental service?)

          • Speeder

            lol at the illegal car rental service (it’s probably true). I advocate that a maximum of 3 tickets after the first violation be waived. All subsequent tickets after the 4th are well deserved.

          • BrooklynBus

            I know you are expecting me to defend someone who got 56 summonses, but I am not going to.

          • Andrew

            Then why are you defending the elected official who dismissed 55 of the 56 summonses? Should someone who was caught breaking the law 56 times be fined exactly the same as someone who was caught breaking the law once?

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  • ArnietheK

    What’s the harm in driving in the bus lane if there is no bus on the horizon? DOT ought to be able compare the time of the violation with the time the next bus passed the violation point. It seems to me that violations should be issued only when motorists impede the movement of buses.
    That said, I’m wondering whether DOT has studied whether newly dedicated bus lanes have demonstratively accelerated bus travel.
    Here’ s another thing. In recent weeks, street work was being performed on Nostrand Avenue divider between Avenues X and Y. The work closed the norhtbound left lane of Nostrand Avenue to traffic. This left motorists no choice but to use the bus lane. Is this considered a violation subject to fine?