Upstate Assembly reps kill City-endorsed BRT measures

By · Published in 2008

Rochester, New York, is so far away from New York City that a search for directions on Google offers up flight information before it provides driving instructions. Rochester, New York, is so far away from New York City that Google recommends a three-state drive that covers 333 miles and would take nearly six hours without traffic.

So it’s just another indication of how horribly inept New York State politics are that a Rochester representative to the New York State Assembly is now responsible for the fact that this city won’t be getting a viable method of enforcing bus rapid transit lanes any time soon. Gantt’s committee defeated a bill passed by the City Council with a home-rule endorsement that would have allowed the city to use cameras for BRT lane violation enforcement efforts.

Streetsblog’s Ben Fried has the skinny on this outrageous story:

Legislation central to New York City’s implementation of Bus Rapid Transit died in Albany yesterday, when the State Assembly transportation committee, chaired by Rochester Democrat David Gantt, defeated a bill authorizing bus-mounted enforcement cameras by a narrow 14-11 vote. Another traffic enforcement bill, which makes it easier to issue tickets for blocking the box, did make it through the committee.

“It’s really outrageous that after a year of pretty unanimous agreement about New York’s congestion problem, that all we’re left with is don’t block the box,” said Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives. “It’s pretty sad when that’s the best Albany can do.”

Without bus-mounted enforcement cameras, which have proven successful in London, getting transit up to speed on DOT’s five planned BRT routes faces significant hurdles. “It’s going to make it a lot harder to move buses faster through the city, without camera enforcement of the lanes,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. “It’s going to hurt this experiment with Select Bus Service.”

While Gantt hasn’t — and probably won’t — return calls to Streetsblog, his own logical reasoning is being torn apart in the New York press. As Fried notes, the NYCLU had already addressed civil liberties concerns. And as the Daily News opined today, Gantt’s efforts show a clear personal bias: “Gantt is lead sponsor of a bill tailor-made to promote the technology of his pal’s client – while blocking Bloomberg and elected officials in other jurisdictions from using cameras provided by different vendors.” His faux concerns over civil liberties are, in other words, a load of garbage.

More infuriating however is that, much like the doomed congestion pricing bill, the committee did a quick show-of-hands vote before killing this bill. Yet again, some upstate politician so far removed from the reality of life in New York City has affected our roads, our public transportation policy and our quality of life.

In the end, New York City is at the mercy of people who have other interests and don’t live in the city. These are people who don’t know why we need bus rapid transit and aren’t content to let New York City’s own Council determine the appropriate courses of action. Instead, they’re happy to reap the economic benefits of New York City while utterly depriving the residents of much-needed transportation solutions such as bus rapid transit lanes. Last time, we had Sheldon Silver — a Manhattan-based representative — to thank; this time, we’ve got David F. Gantt.

At some point, these shenanigans have got to stop. As I’m just left annoyed and wondering when some real leadership will land in the state of assembly, can New York City secede in the meantime?

Categories : Buses

25 Responses to “Upstate Assembly reps kill City-endorsed BRT measures”

  1. Boris says:

    This is outrageous. Whatever reasons he had against the bill, it is none of his business how people live in a city he doesn’t understand, and clearly doesn’t like. People like him- and New York politics in general- are the reasons why New Yorkers are consistently robbed blind while denied basic services. It is why we are so far behind London, Paris, even Moscow in terms of public transportation. It is a part of the continued pattern of disdain for American cities by the American suburbs.

    Ever since having a guy from Rochester for a roommate, freshman year of college, I didn’t like Rochester. When I go up to Niagara Falls for Independence Day weekend, I will make sure I don’t stop anywhere within Gantt’s jurisdiction.

    It’s unfortunate that his web page does not list an email address. Emailing is a lot easier than calling, but if it has to be done, it will be done.

  2. Boris says:

    On second thought…from vote-ny.org:

    David F. Gantt
    Elected State Representative District 133 New York

    Party: New York State Democratic Party
    Email: ganttd@assembly.state.ny.us
    Website: assembly.state.ny.us/
    Phone: 585.454.3670
    Address: 245 Lyndhurst Street
    Rochester, NY 14605

  3. Alon Levy says:

    Did Gantt oppose the bill, or did it just fail to make it out of committee?

    Also, Silver’s from the Lower East Side.

  4. Julia says:

    This is totally outrageous. I was so angry and surprised at this that I went and looked up the membership of the transportation committee, as well as some population data. Now I am angry but not surprised!

    Of the 25 transportation committee members, only 9 are from NYC. Three of those represent Staten Island, and one represents parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn.

    The deck is stacked against those of us from the four other boroughs. We stand to gain the most from transit improvements like BRT and congestion pricing. But even though we make up 40% of the state’s population, only 22% of the transportation committee represents us. What incentive do they have to give us anything? BRT will only create more traffic in the remaining lanes for drivers from the suburbs and Staten Island, who have TWICE as many representatives on that committee as the rest of NYC does.

    Until the committee membership changes, I won’t hold my breath for any Assembly support for public transportation. And Ben, if you’ve made this observation before, I apologize for repeating. But it seems like the membership — including the chairmanship — of this committee has to be the next battleground for transit advocates. We’re not going to topple Shelly Silver, but maybe we can get some change here.

    • The Secret Conductor says:

      Wow. Didn’t know that. So how do we advance the transportation system when most of the people voting on it will not benefit from it?

      It just seems to me that all hope is lost on any significant changes. The only thing we have in our favor (if you can call it that) is rising oil prices. the more it goes up, the more people will pay attention to public transportation and the need to expand it.

    • Alon Levy says:

      If only 22% of the transportation committee members are from the city, you can bet it’s because on some other committee a majority of members are from the city. Every legislator sits on the same number of committees; if a group is underrepresented in some committees, it’ll be overrepresented in others.

    • Boris says:


      Which way did the Staten Island members vote? I don’t think it’s fair to single out Staten Island. Our representatives might be knuckleheads, but that can’t be said about the rest of us. I think SI has the most to gain from projects like BRT, not the other boroughs. SI has the worst transportation infrastructure, both in terms of public transit options and in terms of roads. As for the 0.1% of SI drivers who will somehow end up on roads with BRT lanes in other boroughs, I think the effect on traffic will remain negligible.

      I drive down the dilapidated Hylan Blvd (in SI) to work in NJ every morning and wonder if they are delaying repair because they are waiting for BRT approval or because they are just not going to repair it. Either way, it’s very frustrating.

      • Chris says:

        To quote the NY Times:

        The Assembly co-sponsors of the bill who voted to hold it, all Democrats, were Michelle Schimel and Harvey Weisenberg of Long Island, Sam Hoyt of Buffalo, Janele Hyer-Spencer and Matthew Titone of Staten Island and George Latimer of Westchester County.

        There you go. Way to go, Staten Island. Way to make us proud.

        • Boris says:

          Another quote from this article:

          It might seem unusual for lawmakers to vote against a bill they support, but it happens with some frequency in Albany, where political expediency often trumps ideology.

          So maybe they did support the bill, whatever that means.

          I don’t think I’ve lived in Staten Island long enough (about 2 years) to vote for these politicos, but if I did, please shoot me.

  5. Todd says:

    This story made me sick. It’s gone beyond ridiculous at this point…


  1. […] New York State’s shooting down of both New York City’s proposed congestion pricing and bus rapid transit and what seems to be a similar disinclination to change the status quo here in Georgia (I hope to be […]

  2. […] Rapid Transit proponents were pretty outraged when Assembly Rep. David Gantt killed any effective BRT enforcement measures. Today, ten days after our rage has subsided, Streetsblog revisits the issue with a stellar piece […]

  3. […] highly-anticipated debut. While we won’t enjoy camera-enforced dedicated bus lanes thanks to this absurd Representative from Rochester, I received a few missives from readings clamoring to find out how day one went. To that end, both […]

  4. […] Brad Allen pondered how New York City should beef up BRT enforcement. While we have blamed David Gantt for shooting down camera-enforced lanes, Allen argues that New York should follow Europe’s […]

  5. […] when, last month, David Gantt singlehandedly squashed any effective BRT-lane enforcement measures? Of course you do. Well, so does The New York Times, and today, a full 36 days after Gantt’s […]

  6. […] Everyone loves the new Select Bus Service lanes in effect in the Bronx, reports The Times’ William Neuman. So hopefully, New York City Transit will begin a quick roll-out of these lanes, right? Well, not so fast. Due mainly to bus supply problems and some logistical issues, we’re going to be waiting at least 18-24 months until the Manhattan routes debut. At least this delay gives the MTA plenty of time to get the BRT plans right and to straighten out the enforcement issues. […]

  7. […] hasn’t all been wine and roses though for Select Bus Service. When David Gantt killed a potential home-rule BRT enforcement measure, the MTA and DOT had start from scratch and figure out how to initiate effective lane enforcement. […]

  8. […] New York State’s shooting down of both New York City’s proposed congestion pricing and bus rapid transit and what seems to be a similar difficulty in changing the status quo here in Georgia (I hope to be […]

  9. […] advocates in New York over the last few years. While David Gantt and the state legislature denied New York a home rule measure that would have led to efficient BRT lane enforcement, Janette Sadik-Kahn’s Department of […]

  10. […] the city has not yet implemented bus lane cameras. Back in 2008, David Gantt, a Rochester Democrat, torpedoed a home rule measure that would have allowed the city to use cameras to enforce the bus lanes. Since then, however, the […]

  11. […] roadblocks at every turn. In 2008, David Gantt, an Assembly representative from Rochester, killed a home rule-endorsed camera-enforcement measure over what he said were civil liberties concerns. This year, the Assembly has, for now, removed a […]

  12. […] open transit wounds, she also voted against bus-lane camera enforcement when David Gantt and Co. killed that measure two months after the congestion pricing vote. To make matters even worse, the Daily News […]

  13. […] The City Council has sent a home-rule bill to Albany requesting permission to implement camera enforcement measures in the city’s new bus lanes. While the State Senate has approved such a measure, the New York Assembly has yet to pick up the issue. If this sounds familiar, well, it’s because history is repeating itself. The bill, which passed by a 46-4 vote, will once again have to clear Sheldon Silver Assembly, and the last time a bus measure bill got this far, David Gantt killed it. […]

  14. […] as Ben Fried notes, considering how David Gantt, chair of the transportation committee, has killed similar measures in committee before, it appears as though Sheldon Silver is finally willing to allow the Assembly to pass this […]

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