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DDOT postpones start of blocked bus lane fines

Drivers in D.C. have more time to adjust to a new traffic law, that would institute fines for driving in bus-only lanes.

WASHINGTON — Enforcement of a D.C. initiative that would fine drivers caught in bus-only lanes has been temporarily postponed, according to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Violators will continue to receive warnings for now. 

The Clear Lanes Initiative is a program implemented by D.C. and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to help keep the "bus only" lanes clear of commercial vehicles. WMATA added cameras to each Metrobus that runs along the 31 routes with bus-only lanes, totaling 140 cameras. 

The cameras will take pictures of cars parked, stopped or driving in the bus-only lane and record videos of the license plates. Drivers who violate the new traffic law will be fined $100 for being parked or stopped in a bus zone and $200 for driving in a bus lane. The money collected from the fines will go towards the D.C. general fund.

A 45-day warning period for drivers in D.C. went into effect in July. Fines were originally supposed to be enforced starting Monday. However, according to a DDOT spokesperson, the enforcement period has been pushed back while they :finalize operations with WMATA." 

"For the time being we will continue with the warning period and will make an announcement once we have reached a new enforcement date," the spokesperson wrote in an email to WUSA9. 

The Clear Lanes Initiative is expected to improve bus services throughout the District, according to transportation officials. 

"For people to use buses, we need them to be faster and more reliable. That can't happen if cars are blocking the bus lanes that are supposed to keep buses moving," said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke. "Bus stop zones are equally important to keep clear so that buses can pull up to the curb so customers of all abilities have a safe way to board or exit." 

For the time being the program is only limited to the District. Metro is considering expanding to the Maryland and Virginia areas where Metrobuses currently run. However, additional legislation would be required for a similar program to be implemented. 

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