Metro will add enforcement cameras to buses to Clear Lanes and provide faster, Better Bus service in partnership with the District
Metro will add automated cameras to buses to keep unauthorized vehicles out of bus-only lanes and bus stop zones under an agreement with the District of Columbia and recommended for approval by the Metro Board of Directors Finance Committee today. The new initiative, called Clear Lanes, is modeled after similar programs, including San Francisco and New York City, and will be the first to use automated camera technology to enforce bus stop zones in addition to bus-only lanes.
Clear Lanes aligns with Metro's Better Bus initiative to create better, more reliable service for bus customers. In the District, 140 buses on 31 routes that run along bus-only lanes will be equipped with cameras. Encrypted video and photos from the automated cameras will be sent via cellular directly to the District which will handle the review, issue citations and collect fines. Metro will not review or have access to the encrypted video footage.
The program is expected to improve service for about two out of every three Metrobus customers in the District, the majority of whom do not own a car.
"For people to use buses, we need them to be faster and more reliable. That can't happen if cars are blocking the bus lanes that are supposed to keep buses moving," said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke. "Bus stop zones are equally important to keep clear so that buses can pull up to the curb so customers of all abilities have a safe way to board or exit."
Clear Lanes also helps keep buses on time, allowing them to flow freely in bus-only lanes without getting stuck in congestion. Convenient, reliable service makes buses more attractive and takes cars off the road supporting sustainability and equity in transit. In the District, nearly half of all customers on Clear Lanes routes are low-income and 80 percent are persons of color.
"We are investing more than $100 million in our Bus Priority Program, building a network of bus lanes that will create a more equitable, better quality of life for people across the District," said District Department of Transportation Director Everett Lott. "Over the next six years, our vision is to have 120-lane miles of bus-only lanes that connect our neighborhoods and bring people to jobs, kids to schools, and families together."
Metro is in the process of installing the cameras and expects to complete testing sometime this summer when a warning period would begin followed by citations starting sometime in the fall. Metro does not receive any funds from citations.
Under the partnership, Metro will spend $4.6 million to purchase, install and maintain the cameras with DC covering the operating costs, licensing and software in the first two years. The contract provides additional options to expand the program to 600 cameras over a 10-year period.
Based on the experience of transit agencies in San Francisco and New York City, enforcement of bus-only lanes resulted in improved bus service after about three months.
The program is limited to the District. Metro is exploring the possibility of expanding the program; however, additional legislation is required before similar programs could be implemented in Maryland and Virginia.