Notes From Albany: The Bus Camera Saga Continues…
By Nadine Lemmon
A group from Transportation Alternatives, Environmental Defense Fund, Straphangers Campaign and Tri-State Transportation Campaign headed to Albany last week to lobby for the inclusion of the NYC bus lane camera enforcement legislation in the final state budget. At the moment, the legislation is part of the Executive Budget's 21 Day Amendments as well as the Senate's budget--but not the Assembly's budget. So unfortunately, this issue has gotten caught in the ongoing vortex of budget negotiations.
Advocates met one-on-one with 13 Assemblymembers, mostly city legislators who have bus lanes in their districts. Walking into the day, there was a rumor that there wasn't a broad contingent of support from the NYC delegation, but the meetings clearly showed otherwise. Several members agreed to sign on as sponsors; others indicated they would talk directly with Assembly leadership to urge that this bill be included in their budget. Some members, though skeptical at first, turned around when they realized the clear value for their constituents, and the overall quality of life in NYC.
Bus lane camera legislation was a stand-alone bill back in 2008, and although a majority of Members in the Assembly Transportation Committee supported it, it was messily killed in committee. There was some grumbling to be heard about that process, and about the policy's notable absence from the Assembly budget this year.
A few reservations persist. One member was not convinced that the adjudication process would be fair, though most members with the same concern came around after learning that video (not just still photographs) would be used to document lane violations. Another feared that businesses would be negatively impacted due to reduced parking options, although the cameras will only be used to enforce lanes which are already reserved for buses. But by and large, the need for and logic behind this legislation were evident -- faster buses lead to more transit riders, less pollution, and improved economic development. For most of the members we spoke with, the policy's merits weren't a stumbling block.
Submitted by volunteer on May 6, 2010 - 16:44. categories [ ]