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Automated Enforcement Coming Soon to a Bus Lane Near You

Metro is already installing on-bus cameras. Soon comes testing, outreach, then warning tickets. Wilshire/5th/6th and La Brea will be the first bus routes in the bus lane enforcement program.

Bus lane marking in West Los Angeles. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro bus riders will soon see faster bus speeds when Metro and L.A. City get a new bus lane enforcement program underway this year. Metro is adding on-bus cameras that will automatically issue tickets to drivers parking in bus lanes or at bus stops.

In the past half-decade, Metro has worked with cities, mostly L.A. City, to install eleven new bus-only lane projects. Since 2019, Metro added about 20 new miles of bus lanes (about 30 new lane-miles). Metro (working with underlying cities and L.A. County) has additional bus lanes planned plus even more that were recently awarded federal funding. The pace of bus lane implementation will increase with Measure HLA approval.

Car parked in Wilshre Blvd bus-only lane. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Bus riders are already seeing bus lane benefits, but sometimes the lanes are ineffective because drivers illegally park in them. In 2018, Metro's CEO complained about this. In 2019, Metro Chief Operating Officer Conan Cheung stressed that eight assigned LAPD motorcycle officers were the key to making Metro's Flower Street bus lane successful.

Now Metro is partnering with the L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) to do something about it: adding on-bus cameras to ticket scofflaw motorists.

There are concerns over how to ticket in ways that advance equity and not overburden poor Angelenos. Metro bus riders are predominantly low income and people of color, so enforcement prioritizing them is needed. The program also works to minimize impacts on lower income drivers by providing outreach and warning tickets.

On-bus camera enforcement has proven effective in many cities, improving bus speeds and growing ridership. It took passing state legislation to come to L.A.

Last October, the board approved an $11 million initial five-year contract (with Hayden AI Technologies) for Metro's Bus Lane Enforcement Pilot Program in partnership with LADOT. As of October, Metro had anticipated enforcement would get underway in Spring 2024.

This week Metro Communications Director Missy Colman provided an update on the on-bus camera program. Colman noted that the program involves three phases: install/test cameras, a 60-day outreach period, then go-live. Even during go-live, "during the first 60 days, warning citations will only be used as informational notices and will not result in any violations."

"Currently, about 15 of 100 cameras have been installed on some buses along routes 720 [Wilshire Blvd./5th/6th Rapid] and 212 [La Brea Avenue]" Colman noted. "We’re planning to begin testing some time this summer."

Colman stated a second phase is planned to include route 70 [Cesar Chavez Blvd./Garvey Avenue] and the Metro J (Silver) Line. Both travel on several downtown L.A. bus lane streets.

Once testing confirms the on-bus cameras are working well, Metro will launch a community outreach campaign marketed to reach motorists and transit users.

In early 2021, the L.A. City Council proactively approved a motion [Council File 21-1224] setting the stage for city participation in on-bus camera enforcement. But there are still a couple more steps the city must take.

LADOT spokesperson Colin Sweeney notes that his department is in contract negotiations "to allow us to issue citations based on parking violation information collected by Metro." Additionally, the city needs to approve a new bus lane violation ordinance. Sweeney noted that the City Attorney is currently drafting that ordinance which will then go to the City Council for approval.

If all goes well, automated bus lane enforcement should get underway late summer or early fall.

(Full disclosure: Hayden AI is an advertiser with Streetsblog. They were not consulted on this post.)

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