For those who drive in New York City, the abundance of bus lanes can be frustrating. (“A perfectly good lane for driving!” “All that wasted curb space that could be used for parking!”) Unfortunately, those bus lanes are needed to help keep the city’s buses stay on schedule and keep riders safe as they get on and off the bus. Those who park or drive in NYC’s bus lanes can be ticketed by either a uniformed officer or bus lane camera with different penalties (see below).
What Are the Penalties for a NYC Bus Lane Ticket?
- Fine: Drivers who drive in or park in a NYC bus lane can be fined between $115 and $150.
- Points: A bus lane violation can be issued as a parking ticket or a moving violation. If the bus lane ticket is a moving violation, a conviction will result in 2 points being assessed on one’s license. Bus lane camera tickets do not carry points.
- Surcharge: A bus lane moving violation will also require drivers to pay an additional $88 surcharge upon conviction.
- Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA) fee: If a NYC bus lane ticket results in points, a driver could end up paying a DRA, which applies whenever one receives 6 or more points on his/her license. A DRA costs $300 plus $75 for each point over six.
- Auto insurance increase: If the bus lane ticket is issued as a moving violation, then a conviction can result in an increase in auto insurance rates. The exact increase will depend on many factors, including the driver’s age, driving history, income level, and more.
Types of NYC Bus Lane Tickets
There are three types of tickets a driver can get for violating rules regarding NYC bus lanes:
- A moving violation for illegally driving in a bus lane
- A parking violation for illegally parking in a bus lane
- A parking violation for illegally parking in a bus stop
A driver who is ticketed for being parked at a bus stop, whether by an officer or via a camera, will be hit with a parking ticket. A driver who is ticketed for driving through a bus lane by a camera will face a no-point bus lane ticket. Drivers who are ticketed by an officer for driving in a bus lane can face a moving violation worth 2 points on one’s license.
Drivers who do not spend a lot of time in NYC may not realize that the city has dedicated lanes for buses. Technically, the city has had bus lanes since 1963, but enforcement has typically been lax, and as a result, the city’s buses have been consistently rated some of the slowest in the country. However, in more recent years, NYPD and legislators have prioritized bus lane enforcement in an effort to improve the efficiency of bus service. In addition to having officers be more diligent in enforcing parking and other bus lane rules, the city is also employing bus lane cameras, both on the street and, more recently, on the buses themselves.
How to Avoid a NYC Bus Lane Ticket
The simplest and most obvious way to avoid a bus lane ticket is to simply not drive or park one’s car in a bus lane in New York City. A driver is permitted to stop in a bus lane to briefly let passengers in or out of the vehicle, but this must be done as swiftly as possible; if one lingers too long he risks being ticketed. However, it is always best, when possible, to arrange to pick up or drop off passengers elsewhere.
Similarly, some bus lanes do permit vehicles to park there during certain times. Such situations will be noted on signage near the bus lane in question. If the signage isn’t visible or the hours are not clear, it is best to err on the side of caution.
A driver can also enter a bus lane if he/she is trying to access an adjacent parking spot, is entering a driveway within 200 feet, or is making a right turn at the next intersection.
What Are NYC’s Bus Lane Rules?
The full text of Section 412(m), which describes rules for the city’s bus lanes, states:
When signs are erected giving notice of bus lane restrictions, no person shall drive a vehicle other than a bus within a designated bus lane during the restricted hours, except:
(1) to use such bus lane in order to make a right hand turn where permitted into a street, private road, private drive, or an entrance to private property in a safe manner; or
(2) to approach to or leave the curbside space, unless standing or stopping at the curb is prohibited by sign or rule; or
(3) temporarily to enter or leave the bus lane for the purpose of and while actually engaged in expeditiously receiving or discharging passengers, except when such activity is prohibited by signs or rules; or
(4) to avoid an obstacle which obstructs the roadway and leaves fewer than ten feet of roadway width available for the free movement of vehicular traffic (except for temporary situations such as slow moving traffic and vehicles loading refuse); or
(5) to comply with the direction of any law enforcement officer or other person authorized to enforce this rule.
With respect to the exceptions in paragraphs one through four of this subdivision, a vehicle may not be operated in the bus lane during restricted hours for more than two hundred feet. The preceding sentence does not apply where posted signs, markings or other traffic control devices indicate otherwise.
With respect to the exceptions in paragraphs two through five of this subdivision, a vehicle must exit the bus lane at the nearest opportunity where it is safe and legal to do so.
Notwithstanding any other provision of these rules, no person may drive a vehicle within a designated bus lane in a manner that interferes with the safety and passage of buses operating
How to Contest a NYC Bus Lane Ticket
Bus Lane Camera Tickets. A person caught on a bus lane camera will receive a notice of liability within 30 days of the offense. The driver will then have 30 days from the date of the notice to dispute the ticket. A bus lane camera ticket can be disputed online or in person. To dispute in person, a driver and/or his/her attorney can visit any NYC Department of Finance Business Centers in the five boroughs at any time--no appointment needed.
Police-issued Bus Lane Tickets (Moving Violations). When an officer tickets a driver for driving in the bus lane, the process for disputing the ticket is similar to that of a bus lane camera ticket. However, the ticket must be disputed with the Traffic Violations Bureau. Drivers can do this by pleading not guilty online or by mail. To plead not guilty by mail, check the appropriate field and send the ticket to:
Traffic Violations Plea Unit
P.O. Box 2950 - ESP
Albany, NY 12220-0950
Sometime after the not guilty plea is entered, the driver will receive a hearing date, at which the driver and/or his/her attorney can present their case.
Defenses to a NYC Bus Lane Ticket
NYC bus lane tickets are difficult to beat (but not impossible). The statute for NYC’s bus lane rules states that a person may enter a bus lane “temporarily” in order to “expeditiously” receive and discharge passengers. However, this language is vague and there is no hard-and-fast rule regarding how much time is considered “expeditiously” enough. For this reason, a person hoping to defeat a NYC bus lane ticket should first consult with an attorney.
Why Hire an Attorney for a NYC Bus Lane Ticket?
Especially if a bus lane ticket comes with points, a driver should consult with an attorney before deciding whether to pay it or fight it. An attorney can review the facts of the case to determine if the driver has a shot at beating the ticket, and if so, what defense has the best odds of working. In some cases, a driver’s best option may be to negotiate the ticket down a less costly, no-point parking ticket. Note that since camera-issued tickets carry 0 points many law firms won’t handle them.
Data on NYC Bus Lane Tickets
From January 2019 through April 2019, the NYPD issued nearly 19,000 bus lane parking summonses. This is more than double the amount of bus lane parking tickets issued during the same time last year. However, moving violations were actually down in the first third of the year. NYPD wrote just 2,518 point-inducing tickets to drivers in bus lanes from the start of 2019 through April, a 37% decline compared to the same period in 2018 in which 3,977 moving violations were issued.
Common Questions About NYC Bus Lane Tickets
- How long do I have to dispute a bus lane ticket? Generally, a person has 30 days to dispute a NYC bus lane ticket.
- Is there ever a time I can park in a bus lane? In some cases, drivers can drive through or park in a bus lane. Signage around bus lanes will indicate if and when that is the case.
- How will I know if a camera caught me parking or driving in a NYC bus lane? A person who is caught on a bus lane camera will receive a Notice of Liability in the mail within 30 days of the incident.
- Can I drop off or pick up passengers in a NYC bus lane? Theoretically, the law allows a driver to stop and pick up or drop off passengers in bus lanes if they do so “expeditiously.” This term is poorly defined and it is difficult for most drivers to argue successfully that they complied with the statute.
- Can I drop off or pick up goods in a NYC bus lane? In some places throughout NYC, a driver is permitted to load or unload goods in a bus lane during certain hours. If this is the case, it will be noted on signage in the area where this is permitted.
Who Should I Contact for a NYC Bus Lane Ticket?
If you or someone you love has been ticketed for driving in or parking in a NYC bus lane, consult with an attorney before taking action. The lawyers at Rosenblum Law are experienced traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation about your case.