Motorists who park in bus-only lanes will get an express ride to the city’s tow pound, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
The NYPD is cracking down on cars blocking bus lanes in an effort to speed up the city’s buses—which have a sluggish average speed of 7.4 miles per hour. Seven new NYPD tow truck teams will cruise through all five boroughs, slapping drivers with a $115 fine and, if their car is towed, they’ll have to cough up $185 to pick it up.
“To all the folks out there who think about or ever think about parking in a bus lane—don’t do it,” warned de Blasio at the NYPD tow lot in Hell’s Kitchen. “Don’t do it, because these good public servants are coming to get you out of that bus lane if you’re blocking millions of New Yorkers from being able to get where they need to go.”
Officials aim to boost the bus speeds—with a dismal rate of less than four miles per hour in busy commercial districts—25 percent by 2020, which de Blasio announced during his State of the City address earlier this month.
Already this year, NYPD bus lane and bus stop tows have jumped seven percent and moving violations for driving in bus lanes are up a staggering 612 percent, according to the NYPD’s Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan.
“Remember the price of blocking a bus lane is costly both to your wallet and also for the livelihood of New York City,” Chan said Wednesday.
In addition to the new fleet of tow trucks, the de Blasio administration aims to increase bus speeds overall by fast tracking bus lane installations—from seven miles per year to 10-15 miles per year. Buses will also get signal priority at 300 intersections across the city. Street redesigns to make bus service more efficient are on the docket as well, the mayor said.
The de Blasio administration is pushing for the MTA to give Select Bus Service a shot in the arm by adding 20 more routes though the program was suspended last August.
The Bus Turnaround Coalition—made up of the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter, and Tri-State Transportation campaign—commended the plan as first stop on a route toward better bus access for New Yorkers.
”Until bus lanes are free and clear for every trip, a progressive city needs a good tow truck team,” the coalition said in a statement. “When bus lanes are blocked, riders’ pathways to economic opportunity are blocked.”