Stay In Your Lane: How To Avoid A NYC Bus Lane Violation

bus lane violation

Summary & Quick Facts

  • No car or truck may sit idle, park in or drive in a bus lane. 
  • The city enforces its bus lane regulations in two ways: with bus lane cameras and police enforcement.
  • If you are caught by a camera, the infraction is treated like a parking ticket.
  • If you are caught by an NYPD officer, this infraction is treated as a moving violation.
  • The severity of penalties depends on how you are caught.
  • Fines for a bus lane violation range from $115-$150.
  • You may also receive 2 points on your license.

Bus Lanes Are Important To New York City

The streets of NYC have many stakeholders.  Pedestrians, bikers and motorist alike all use the roads to get around the city. One of the biggest and most important stakeholders, of course, is the MTA city bus.  Subsequently, bus exclusive lanes are important arteries in the city and integral to its mass transit system. For this reason, drivers in New York City should avoid bus lanes at all cost. These lanes must be free to allow buses to safely load passengers and unload passengers. When drivers illegally operate in bus lanes, they not only impede the safe operation of buses but also impede passengers who depend on buses to get around. As a result, the laws in New York are very clear: it is not lawful for drivers to drive, park, or stand in bus lanes during designated hours. This article will provide all the info you need to avoid a bus lane violation in NYC. 


Types Of Bus Lanes

Bus lanes are used by MTA buses as well as emergency vehicles on some occasions. Nevertheless, all vehicles can use a bus lane when bus lanes are not in effect. There are two kinds of bus lanes: a curbside bus lane and an offset bus lane. Curbside bus lanes are travel lanes for buses that meet the sidewalk curb. For curbside bus lanes, parking or standing at the curb is not allowed during the hours the bus lane is in effect.  Offset bus lanes are travel lanes for buses that are one lane away from the curb. They are usully separated from the curb by parked cars or a bike lane. This makes parking and standing at the curb still possible.


Bus Lane Enforcement

Drivers beware! No car or truck may sit idle, park in or drive in a bus lane. The city chooses to enforce its bus lane regulations in two ways: using cameras and police enforcement.

Bus Lane Cameras

The City has installed cameras along bus lanes to catch violators. The city posts signs along routes that have bus lane cameras as an extra warning for drivers to keep out of bus lanes during restricted times.  Drivers who are issued a citation can actually view the video of their violation online. If a driver wishes to dispute their violation, there is a deadline under which he or she must do so.

Police Enforcement

Don’t think getting caught on candid camera is the only way you can get hit with a ticket. The NYPD regularly patrols bus lanes across the city and issues both moving violations and parking tickets to drivers who violate the bus lane regulations.  Bus lane violations enforced by NYPD officers will be issued on the spot.



A bus lane violation results in a fine ranging from $115 to $150. However, depending on how you are caught determines the severity of the penalties you face. For example, Bus lane violations caught on camera are essentially parking tickets.  If you are caught on camera by a city bus, expect a notice to arrive in the mail approximately 30 days after the violation.

Alternatively, police can issue parking tickets or moving violations to anyone who is breaking the law. In addition to fines, drivers may receive 2 points on their license. Nevertheless, this can have more severe effects than a regular parking ticket. 

You may lose out on job opportunities that require a clean driving record if there is a record of a bus lane violation on their license. Also, points from moving violations could also result in the eventual suspension of a driver’s license if a motorist gets too many points on his license in a designated period of time. And, a record of a bus lane violation can make a driver appear to be a bigger risk to an insurance company, which is why a ticket for breaking the rules on driving in bus lanes could raise auto insurance premiums— sometimes for years after the driver has received a ticket.


How Can You Avoid a Bus Lane Violation?

Having to pay for or fight a parking ticket can actually be avoidable. The best way to avoid a bus lane violation is to adhere to rules in place. Vehicles can only operate in a bus lane under certain circumstances. Below are some rules and regulations you should know about bus lanes. 


Entering A Bus Lane:

There are a couple situations where drives can use a bus lane. Drivers may use a bus lane to lane to make a right turn at the next intersection. They can also use it to access a driveway within 200 feet of entering the bus lane. The safe and legal way to do this make a right turn from a bus lane is by entering the bus lane safely along the block you are turning from.

bus lane violation


Picking Up Or Dropping off Goods:

Drivers should know that they cannot pick-up or deliver goods in a bus lane during the hours when the bus lane regulation is in effect. Also be on the lookout for street signage that shows when curbside bus lanes have mid-day hours that permit parking and deliveries. Drivers should either try to make deliveries during these available hours, find an alternate location, or schedule the delivery before or after the bus lanes are in effect.


Picking Up Or Dropping Off Passengers:

If possible, it’s best to arrange the pickup or drop off where there isn’t a bus lane. However, you may stop in a curbside bus lane for the time it takes for a passenger standing at the curb to enter or a passenger to exit the vehicle and get onto the sidewalk.


Accessing Parking From The Curbside Lane:

Vehicles can enter a bus lane to access on-street curbside parking adjacent to the bus lane. If you are actively trying to park, you may cross through an offset bus lane to enter the parking space. But please drivers, don’t block bus lanes while waiting for someone to leave a parking space. This will surely land you a ticket!


NYC’s Push To Improve Bus Service

Many officials believe that in order to improve MTA bus service, the city must improve traffic enforcement of bus lanes. As a result, they’ve stepped up their efforts to enforce bus lane violations.

Since January, police and traffic agents have written 8,500 tickets for parking in bus lanes. This is a 25 percent increase from the same period last year. In addition, the city issued 104,000 tickets for parking at bus stops, a 16 percent increase.

While drivers may not like the program, proponents of the program make some fair points. For one, they argue that this program improves bus service for pedestrians and traffic flow. Drivers should always play their part in making NYC streets safer and easier to navigate!


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