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MTA vs NYC on Bus Lane Ticket revenue
Posted by Gold_12TH on Fri Jun 15 00:42:08 2012MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota wants city to share cash generated from East Side express bus lane tickets
Lhota refuses to sign off on purchase of cameras for M15 Select route when told all ticket revenue goes to city
THE MTA is poised to boost bus-lane enforcement on First and Second Aves. — a step that’s long overdue — but only if the city agrees to share the income with the transit agency.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota refused to sign off on the purchase of the bus-lane enforcement cameras for the M15 Select route after staffers told him all the ticket revenue would go to city coffers, sources said last night.
In other words, the MTA would make an investment and the city would get all the returns. Lhota has an MBA from the Harvard Business School but anyone with the IQ of a beagle would see there’s something very wrong with that.
One source said the illogic of entering into such an arrangement was indeed questioned by the prior transit administration.
The MTA either caved in or the issue wasn’t resolved before former Chairman Jay Walder split for the big bucks and bright lights of Hong Kong. (For any non-transit geeks reading this, Walder filled only two years of his six-year term before bolting for a much more lucrative private sector job.) Lhota was appointed in January.
The plan is for the surveillance cameras to go on board the M15 buses. The MTA has 55 of them on the route. The cameras would record the license plates of cars and trucks invading bus-only lanes. Vehicle owners would be ticketed and have to pay $115 per violation.
The state Legislature passed a bill authorizing the MTA to use on-board bus cams in June 2009. The MTA and city Transportation Department launched Select Bus Service on First and Second Aves. the following year.
By most accounts, SBS has been an success. Trips have been quickened significantly because of strategies like off-board payment. Riders pay at curbside machines and board en masse rather than paying one by one by one.
The authority solicited competitive bids last year and more than a dozen companies expressed an interest, according to MTA documents.
The MTA bureaucracy has always been afraid of getting into a public fight with the Bloomberg administration. A spokesman last week tread gently when asked about the camera delay.
“We’re still finalizing a time frame,” he said. “This turned out to be a bit more complicated than anticipated, but we are moving forward.”
There’s some truth in there.
The MTA isn’t looking to take all the ticket revenue. It wants some portion of the revenues to defray the expense of the equipment, source said.
In the meantime, bus-lane violators on First and Second Aves. do run the risk of getting ticketed by police patrolling the avenues. The NYPD issued about 27,000 tickets for various bus-lane violations on the 17-mile route between October and early June, police said. The DOT also installed about a dozen stationary cameras along the route.
That’s not shabby enforcement but on-board bus cams would really raise the risk of getting caught and persuade many more asphalt poachers to stay in their own lane.