MTA bus drivers believe they are unfairly targeted by Vision Zero

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Tim Fleischer has the story. (WABC)

New York City is now cracking down on bus drivers, with the goal of making the streets and sidewalks safer for pedestrians.

It's all part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero safety campaign, but now, drivers believe they are being unfairly targeted.

Bus operators have a hard enough job, they say, but they don't believe they should be arrested if they are involved in a pedestrian accident.

MTA bus operators making turns through crosswalks have now been instructed by their union officials to follow the letter of the law and wait until a crosswalk is completely clear before proceeding.

"We are no longer going through crosswalks wherever there are pedestrians," TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said. "We will clear the crosswalk when pedestrians are on the sidewalk."

Under a newly enhanced law that is part of the Vision Zero initiative, bus operators say they face arrest if they injure a pedestrian or bicyclist who has the right of way.

Just last week, a 24-year veteran operator was arrested after striking a 15-year-old girl in a crosswalk.

"To criminalize an accident that a bus operator gets into is an outrage," Sameulsen said. "It's an injustice. It's a miscarriage of the law and it needs to stop."

Bus operators say they do not believe this was the intent of the law, but rather to target reckless and speeding drivers.

"I don't come out in the morning and want to have an accident or hurt anybody," driver Santos Garcia said. "I try to be very careful. I follow the rules. But driving out here with other vehicles, not everybody follows the rules."

MTA officials can't comment on the unions' instructions to drivers, but they have implemented safety measures as part of Vision Zero including public outreach, new technologies and bus operator training.

"Safety is always our number one priority," MTA vice president of transit safety and training. "Safety, service, then schedules."

Three City Council members are now introducing an amendment that would exempt bus operators from the right-of-way law. The question now is how many will support it.
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trafficbusmtabus accidentpedestrian struckvision zeroNew York City
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