Today, the DC Council passed emergency legislation to speed up the start of enforcement against vehicles that block bus stops and bus lanes during priority hours. The goal of DDOT and WMATA’s Clear Lanes Program is to improve bus service by keeping bus lanes and bus stops clear during peak demand hours by equipping buses with automated traffic enforcement cameras. DDOT and WMATA planned to begin issuing fines on September 18, 2023 before delaying the start of the program at the last minute.
The legislation resolves the latest concern raised by DDOT about an inconsistency between the fine for blocking a bus stop ($100) and blocking a bus lane ($200) by setting both fines at $100. After planning for Clear Lanes enforcement for more than six months, plus investments of signage, painted bus priority lanes, and months of warning tickets, DDOT recently notified the Council that they would continue to delay enforcing bus lane violations until the agency completed a lengthy rulemaking process to change the amount of the fine.
By taking action today, the Council was able to act much more quickly via emergency legislation and remove the reason for this latest delay.
“We can’t keep kicking the can on enforcement at the expense of faster and predictable service and traffic safety. Bus riders – who include everyone from students to service workers to seniors to office workers – are tired of always being stuck in traffic when a car double parks without regard to the people around them,” said Councilmember Charles Allen. “My hope is we see the Clear Lanes Program begin as soon as possible. DC has provided months of warning notices, and the painted red lanes are pretty clear in the first place. We’re making the investments. It’s time to speed up the bus.”