D.C. is preparing to crack down on drivers taking up space in bus lanes.
Under a 45-day warning period that began Monday, the District Department of Transportation is giving drivers just over six weeks to become acquainted with new rules meant to help improve bus reliability and boost safety for riders.
The Clear Lanes program, a partnership between Metro and DDOT, places cameras on Metrobuses to discipline unauthorized drivers caught driving, parking, standing or stopping within dedicated bus lanes and zones across the city. Metro said DDOT will take action against violators by reviewing footage from cameras installed on 140 buses along 31 routes that operate in bus-only lanes.
During the grace period, drivers who block bus lanes will receive a letter in the mail with a warning, but they won’t get a ticket. That’s expected to change starting Sept. 18, when failure to keep a bus lane clear could incur a $100 to $200 fine.
“Parking in a bus stop zone for even a minute can prevent the bus from being able to fully pull up to the curb, impacting the ability for bus riders using wheelchairs or mobility devices to board the bus,” DDOT Director Everett Lott said in a news release. “Keeping our bus lanes and bus zones clear and safe for buses will improve the accessibility and efficiency of our transit network.”
The new program will not penalize drivers who cross a bus lane in order to reach a legal parking space, or turn within 40 feet of an intersection or driveway. Bikes, e-bikes and scooters are also exempt.
Metro said Clear Lanes is the first program of its kind to use automated cameras for enforcement in bus stop zones, though similar programs have been enacted in San Francisco and New York City.
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