NEW SPRINGVILLE — A camera set up at a Staten Island traffic light is trapping confused drivers using a Select Bus Service, local politicians said.
Department of Transportation rules say that drivers can ride one block in the painted red lanes before the next right turn, but the entrance to the Pergament Mall on Richmond Avenue in New Springville is leaving drivers puzzled, Councilman Vincent Ignizio said.
While drivers think the next turn out of the lane is Platinum Avenue, the camera will give them a ticket if they don’t turn into the shopping center, Ignizio said.
“This is an entrapment light. This is not something that is helping anyone,” he said. “All this is doing is revenue generating at the expense of people who believe they're doing the right thing.”
He added that the lanes were meant to make the streets safer, but have made it more dangerous for people trying to get into the lane to turn. The camera was put up in May this year.
All three said over the past couple of weeks their offices have been inundated with calls from residents complaining they’ve gotten tickets from the camera when they thought they were following the rules.
"These are nothing more than high-tech ticket traps," Lanza said.
The DOT said that the street signs clearly indicate that the next right turn for them to make would be into the shopping center, and not Platinum Avenue.
"Most motorists traveling in the bus lane along this road do in fact make the next right turn, which is clearly marked with traffic signals, a crosswalk and a right-hand turn lane," said Seth Solomonow, spokesman for the DOT. "Motorists looking to turn into the SI Mall may enter the bus lane safely and legally between this intersection and Platinum Avenue."
But for Mary Ann Herd, 81, of Eltingville, the distinction wasn't clear.
Herd said she recently got two $115 tickets in one day from the same camera when she was trying to go to the Staten Island Mall, and thought she needed to get into the lane before Pergament Mall.
“I’ve been driving for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.
Ignizio said, “This is not a young speed demon, 17 years old, trying to get somewhere. These are people that believe they are abiding by the law and are getting caught in this entrapment camera.”
Lanza said other intersections with the bus lanes around the island also unfairly give tickets to drivers, especially since traffic backs up in some spots and they need to get in the lane block earlier to make a turn.
“You can't cut in a block before the turn,” he said. “This has got to end."
Ignizio said that if the DOT does not fix the issue, they plan to create legislation or head to court to force the camera to be moved.