Councilman Chaim Deutsch is set to introduce legislation that will create a five-minute grace period in the hours of enforcement of the city’s dedicated bus lanes, which he said has created an onslaught of unfair violations for drivers caught in the lane just seconds after the cameras turn on.
Camera enforced bus lanes are the norm for the city’s Select Bus Service routes, including the B44 SBS traveling on Nostrand Avenue. Though some bus lanes are in effect all day, many are only in operation during peak commuting hours. The councilman said his office has received several complaints from constituents that they’re being ticketed just seconds after the enforcement rules begin, a “gotcha” practice that levies fines on drivers whose dashboard clocks are slightly out of sync.
“I always say ‘no two watches have the same time,’” said Deutsch. “That’s why I’m proposing a five-minute grace period, so that people wont get ticketed.”
Deutsch said one of his constituents showed him a $125 ticket for being in the Nostrand Avenue bus lane – just 10 seconds after cameras were set to turn off.
“It’s ludicrous because if someone’s watch is a minute or two off, or five minutes off … people should have a fair shot,” he said. “Same goes for if a cop pulls you over in a bus lane. On his watch, it should be at least 7:05 [if cameras turn on at 7:00].”
The bill is currently being drafted and should be introduced to the City Council in approximately 30 days. It will be sent to the Transportation Committe, which will hold a hearing on it before putting it to a vote.
Deutsch previously battled issues stemming from SBS bus lane enforcement, which first came into effect late last year. Over the summer, dozens of constituents complained that they were unaware of the new regulations and were busted driving in the lanes. But bureaucratic bungling at the Department of Transportation and Department of Finance caused a delay in mailing out the violations, so many received multiple fines before they were aware of the law. The city later agreed to waive all but the first fine during the backlogged period.
With additional reporting by Rachel Silberstein.