Coming Soon To NYC: Red-Light Transit Buses

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nyc-busThere’s a new chief in town — and as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s head honcho, Jay Walder says he’s ready take his first fight to the roads. His first proposal is an idea that he says can dramatically improve bus service. So why is he targeting drivers and just what will it cost you? New York City buses are going to run on time if the new head of the MTA has his way. He told CBS 2 HD exclusively how he’s going to do it.

It will be the transit version of smile, you’re on candid camera.

“You and I would never think of stopping our car on a train track, but some how the idea of stopping a car in a bus lane seems acceptable. It’s not,” Walder told CBS 2 HD on Tuesday.

The MTA’s new chief executive has a game plan for improving mass transit here. He wants more people to take buses and he’s going to make it more attractive by having the buses go faster.

How? By making sure bus lanes are really only for buses.

He wants to install cameras on the front of buses to take pictures of any vehicles travelling in or blocking bus lanes. Tickets will be issued automatically, just like the city’s red-light cameras.

“You go through a process of saying you recognize the license plate, you issue tickets and when you begin to prove to people that a bus lane is meant for a bus and that there’s actually an enforcement that takes place people respond. They respond,” Walder said.

Bus cameras are already in use in London, which is where Walder worked before taking over the MTA. He said it’s an idea that works.

“We did improve the on-time performance of buses in London quite significantly,” Walder said.

The state Legislature would have to sign off on the bus cameras, Walder said. Spokesmen for the Senate and the Assembly told CBS 2 HD on Tuesday that it’s an idea that has promise. And the recently driver-friendly Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports it, too. New Yorkers have mixed reactions.

“It’s more restrictions, in a sense it’s like spying,” one man said.

“I’m not quite sure, really. I think it’s a good idea, but then again when there’s a lot of traffic you would like to move into the bus lane. Wouldn’t you if you were a driver?” said Alex Picciano of Chelsea.

“All for it, because I’d like the buses to go faster and I’m in a hurry and I don’t think people should violate the law,” added Bynchas Brenner of the Upper East Side.

“I think it sounds good. Yeah, I think anything, you know, to have people do what they’re supposed to rather than holding up traffic would be a good idea,” Rhoda Adler said.

The new MTA boss was noncommittal about new fare hikes right now. The next increase is scheduled for 2011.

Walder wants to bring lots of new technology to New York, including new E-Z swipe cards to ride buses and subways and system-wide time clocks to tell you how soon the next bus or train will arrive.

{WCBS-TV/Noam Newscenter}


  1. Ask this Walder guy, if after he gets done with NY, he wants to work for EGGED in yerushalayim. I mean having the buses on a schedule and knowing when the next bus was coming in would be just Heavenly…in the heavenly city.

  2. I recently drove to Manhattan, not having been there for some time. We missed the turn to go to the Lincoln, I think it was, and wandered around trying to get the Holland.

    We somehow ended up on a street where you couldn’t make a right because there was a bus lane, and you couldn’t make any lefts either. (Okay, on a highway when you miss your exit you’re stuck til the next, but at least you’re moving & not sitting at red lights too! This was crazy!) Basically, we were stuck on that road for several blocks going the wrong way and it took us an hour to get out of Manhattan.

    I want to know, is that a sane way to run a city? I was sorely tempted to just make a right & suffer the consequences, it was just so frustrating to be trapped like that!

    Does anyone know which streets that have this meshugas, so we can avoid them next time?

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