Miami-Dade Trying to Crack Down on Bus Lane Drivers

Anabel Miguelez uses U.S. 1 in South Miami-Dade County to get to and from her Coral Gables job.

The third year FIU law school student gets stuck and waits in the gridlock during rush hour every day. And while she waits in traffic, she gets more annoyed by each car she sees zipping by in the transit lanes reserved for buses.

"Definitely unfair," said Miguelez. "Just to see someone zoom by - it looks great to be able to do that but you know that you are not supposed to, but people do it."

You don’t have to wait long to see cars bypassing the gridlock and using the bus lane.

The bus lanes run parallel to what’s commonly called Dixie Highway between Homestead to where the Palmetto Expressway begins.

"It’s meant for buses,” said Alice Bravo, Miami-Dade County Transportation Director. Signs clearly mark the lanes as being exclusively for a bus, police car or other emergency vehicle.

"Obviously, we want to make sure that the transit way is used for its intended purpose," Bravo said. "We are working with police to enforce it."

NBC 6 cameras caught bold drivers in front of a marked police car apparently not worried about getting pulled over. And government workers in a van with a county plate were pulled over by an officer. They said they weren’t responding to an emergency. The officer told them not to use the lane again.

Miami-Dade Officer Julio Alvarez patrols the bus lanes as well as Metro Rail stations. He says when he pulls a driver over, he hears plenty of excuses.

"I don’t live around here. I live in Broward. I’m not familiar with the busway," he said.

He said there are more violators who are heading to work or getting their kids to school.

"People use it more in the morning, “ Alvarez said.

Miami-Dade Police say a ticket is usually a last resort and they usually give drivers they catch in a bus lane a warning. A spokesperson said in the last two weeks, they’ve given out 28 tickets and 71 warnings. A ticket costs $176.

"Think about the fact that people are willing to break the law to drive on the bus lane to get somewhere in an expedient way, that’s how bad traffic is,” said Shelley Stanczyk.

Stanczyk is the former mayor of Palmetto Bay and runs an antique store just off the highway. She says traffic is so bad that her customers plan their shopping to make sure they don’t get caught in the afternoon traffic.

She believes the problem will only get worse as the area gets more developed. She says the only solution is to fill those bus lanes with more public transportation and make people want to use it.

"Transit is the future we need to continue living in South Florida," she said.

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