Coming soon to the West Seattle Bridge: Bus-lane enforcement camera

Just announced by SDOT: The city is adding three new traffic-enforcement cameras, and one of them will be for bus-lane violations on the West Seattle Bridge (the other two will be downtown block-the-box cameras). From the announcement:

… The new cameras will allow the city to collect a larger data set for a more robust analysis of the impact and effectiveness of these types of automated enforcement programs. The city expects to install the cameras at the three identified locations at the beginning of September. There will be a 30-day warning period to ensure the public has adequate notice to learn the rules of the road. … The locations were selected due to the large volume of pedestrians present combined with a high rate of observed violations by drivers.

This is part of a “pilot program” resulting from legislative authorization of more uses for automated enforcement cameras. Separate from the one-month grace period, the city says, first-time violators will get a warning letter, and $75 tickets after that. Where does the money go? The announcement notes:

Under state law, half of the net revenue from the traffic cameras will go to a Washington Traffic Safety Commission fund for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects, and the other half of the net revenue must be used to build safety and mobility improvements for people with disabilities in Seattle. SDOT plans to invest this in building more accessible walk signals which vibrate and make a noise to let people with limited vision or hearing know when it is safe to cross the street.

As with other automated enforcement cameras – like school-zone speeding and red-light running – the announcement notes, “To protect privacy, the cameras will only record vehicle license plates and not the people inside the car. The photos are only intended to be used for enforcing the bus lane and blocking the box laws, and are not intended for other law enforcement action.”

70 Replies to "Coming soon to the West Seattle Bridge: Bus-lane enforcement camera"

  • flimflam August 14, 2023 (2:10 pm)

    If the cameras are only using plate numbers and purposely NOT looking to ID the driver out of privacy concerns, how will a fine be enforceable?

    • Mike August 14, 2023 (3:01 pm)

      It’s not enforceable.  They could pay a cop to enforce the law, which is the legitimate and legal way.

    • DAFFY August 14, 2023 (3:32 pm)

      Any fines are assessed to the owner of the vehicle.  They’ll get a citation via the USPS mail.

      • WSresident August 14, 2023 (5:57 pm)

        Yes but you can get out of any of those tickets by just saying it wasn’t you driving your car, which happens all the time. I had 4 in my name after I delivered my last child because my husband was doing the carting and had no idea where the speed zones were. 😂 I wasn’t driving and got out of all 4. 

        • John August 14, 2023 (6:18 pm)

          I’m confused….   so your husband is breaking speed limits, putting others at risk, and you’re covering him for his illegal behavior?!

          • WSresident August 15, 2023 (7:08 am)

            What are you talking about it was school zones and I wasn’t driving. 

        • heartless August 14, 2023 (6:32 pm)

          Right.  You can commit the moral crime of lying, and the Washington state crime of perjury, and probably get out of paying $75.  Congrats?

          • rpo August 15, 2023 (9:58 am)

            Wow. This is exactly why the owner of the vehicle SHOULD be fined. Don’t let others drive your vehicle if they are incapable of driving safely…and that includes your spouse. I hope the state fixes this loophole ASAP.    

          • Danimal August 15, 2023 (2:39 pm)

            The state CAN’T fix this loophole, because it was created soecifically to address valid 1st Amendment concerns about violation of privacy if photos were being taken of the driver.

          • Danimal August 17, 2023 (1:09 am)

            Ok, fair enough. I didn’t look up the definition of then 1st vs 4th Amendments to the Constitution; mea culpa.  However, everything I’ve read that came up on a Google search indicates that the law exists as it does due in part to “1st Amendment Concerns.” That said… how to proceed from here??

          • bob August 17, 2023 (3:08 pm)

            She’s is not lying nor perjuring herself.  If she, the owner of the car, was not driving when the citation was issued, she is not liable for the ticket.  That’s the law!

        • R2 August 15, 2023 (5:54 pm)

          As a parent, I would think you might feel differently about speeding in school zones. Rather than acknowledging that your spouse broke the law numerous times, and placed children at risk, you boast that you were able to weasel out of your well deserved consequences.

    • C August 14, 2023 (3:54 pm)

      My guess is it’ll be like the school speed cams where you have to prove you weren’t driving the car. 

      • Danimal August 15, 2023 (2:43 pm)

        Again, you do not have to prove you WEREN’T driving, just make a statement that you were not driving under penalty of perjury. The state can’t collect photo proof that you were driving due to First Amendment right-to-privacy concerns, so the ticket is vacated if the owner states they weren’t driving.

  • Mark P August 14, 2023 (2:31 pm)


  • Lola August 14, 2023 (2:42 pm)

    You do not know how many people in the morning use the bus lane as their own personal lane and zoom by as if they have the right to be in that lane.  I am glad they will be putting these in. 

  • dhg August 14, 2023 (2:43 pm)

    Now the police needs to crack down on the many many cars that hide their plate. Most use a plastic cover that hides it from anything except looking at it straight on, or a tinted one that simply makes it impossible to read from any angle.  There’s also all those bike racks without bikes conveniently blocking the plate.

    • Buttercup August 14, 2023 (3:29 pm)

      I’m sure the cameras will be taking pictures from the front of the car, just like all the other camera’s do. It’s about time this is being done, now to crack down on no plates/tabs on the front and consequently no insurance.

      • WSB August 14, 2023 (4:21 pm)

        From the news release: “Starting in 2022, the automated enforcement camera pilot program records the rear license plates of vehicles violating the law.”

      • FallaciousArgument August 15, 2023 (8:23 pm)

        “now to crack down on no plates/tabs on the front and consequently no insurance.“

        quite the slippery slope you took us down there. Care to share the data regarding no plates on the front = no tabs = no insurance? Or was that just made up to make your argument sound better?

  • 937 August 14, 2023 (3:56 pm)


    Police state.

    Minus the police.

    • Alki Family August 14, 2023 (4:26 pm)

      So… just “state?”

      • heartless August 14, 2023 (6:33 pm)

        Stating the obvious, if you ask me.

    • Josh August 14, 2023 (8:58 pm)

      Anarchy sounds like a totally great idea until you meet another human. 

      • Cascadiarocks August 14, 2023 (11:59 pm)

        LOL! Well said.Rules exist for a reason and the day people abide by them is the day police can retire.

      • Scarlett August 15, 2023 (7:00 am)

        And that other human can never have enough rules, laws and camera’s to impose on you.  

    • dhg August 15, 2023 (8:53 pm)

      Before you break into the whole Nazi “show us your papers thing”, you should reconsider what you’re saying.  A police state is a form of government where the police are given license to harass everyone.  Like what they do in Iran, allowing the morality police to beat up women who don’t wear scarves.  Simply enforcing existing laws that have been passed by our representatives is not making a “police state”.  The vast majority of drivers obey the laws already which is why one will see one car flying down the bus lane while everyone else is in a slow lane.  Paying a ticket is their price for the momentary freedom.  I would like to see the cameras ticketing for speeders because our bridge is now an autobahn and the speeds are shocking.

  • Chemist August 14, 2023 (4:51 pm)

    It’s a shame that RCW 46.63.170 had specific provisions exempting public transit employees from any consequences of the box blocking tickets those cameras will issue downtown.  It’s interesting that the authorization makes a distinction between public transit vehicles and just restricted lane usage.  Almost like this would be a good opportunity for SDOT to convert that lane into public transit vehicles only and enforce that (the commuter buses from amazon, microsoft would be ticketed).

  • K August 14, 2023 (5:06 pm)

    Hell yes.

  • Rusty August 14, 2023 (5:07 pm)

    Put one of these on the corner of Delridge/Genesee

  • KBear August 14, 2023 (5:32 pm)

    There’s no need for a 30 day grace period. The bus lane has been there for years. People are well aware they shouldn’t be driving in it. 

  • Also John August 14, 2023 (6:21 pm)

    Big thumbs up!!!   Too many drivers believe they’re entitled and untouchable.  It’s a all select group that do it constantly.

  • PSPS August 14, 2023 (6:44 pm)

    LOL. “half of the net revenue from the traffic cameras will go to….”  Note the word “net.” They use that because most of the ticket money goes to a private outfit in Arizona that installs the cameras and sends out the tickets. The tickets carry no penalty beyond the grift. You don’t really have to pay them and they don’t appear on anyone’s driving record. If you are scared into paying it, think of it as just a toll.

  • ARPigeonPoint August 14, 2023 (6:48 pm)

    I am all for this, but please, other drivers, let those of us who enter the bridge at Delridge merge out of the fast-approaching bus lane.  

    • BD August 14, 2023 (7:54 pm)

      I’m sorry ARPigeonPoint, I fear you’re the target.

    • sam-c August 15, 2023 (8:41 am)

      Yes, and getting stuck behind a slow-moving, long, Nucor truck who is also trying to merge left to get to I-5 makes that merge that much harder.   Good luck Delridge on-rampers!

      • ARPigeonPoint August 16, 2023 (5:01 pm)

        Getting stuck behind a Nucor truck was exactly what I was thinking of when I posted that. I’ve always managed to get over in time, but T-Th, traffic has been awful lately. 

  • WSRez August 14, 2023 (7:02 pm)

    The traffic cameras LITERALLY NOBODY is asking for. smh

    • C August 14, 2023 (8:44 pm)

      Speak for yourself I get tired of watching people cruise up the bus lane then swing over last minute trying to “merge” illegally. Been in west sea 13 years and I’ve seen a ton of accidents because of this nonsense. People are such lame drivers 

      • WSRez August 15, 2023 (8:42 am)

        But did you actually ASK for it? If so, what did you do to make submit this request to the powers that control this? 

      • bob August 17, 2023 (3:13 pm)

        It would be much easier and productive just to get rid of the bus lane.

    • Josh August 14, 2023 (9:03 pm)

      I’m asking for them. It would be great if in order to get out of the ticket you either had to submit a police report for a stolen vehicle or the WADL number of the person you let drive your car. 

    • KBear August 14, 2023 (9:06 pm)

      (“Literally Nobody” = The majority of law-abiding drivers and transit riders who would like self-entitled jackholes to stop driving in the bus lane.)

      • North Delridge August 14, 2023 (10:51 pm)

        None of you asking for these cameras have ever driven onto the bridge from Delridge.  Try that approach during rush hour then get back to me.  This is just the city trying to shore up revenue through alternative regressive taxation that primarily affects law-abiding citizens (people that have their plates displayed).  Along with the speed cameras.

        • msw August 14, 2023 (11:33 pm)

          Just another money grab for the city. All of you who want this camera will regret it when you have to cross into the bus lane to go to the lane for 99 and no one let’s you in, or there’s a backup on 99. I suppose you all will smugly pay the ticket when it comes in the mail. You will deserve it. 

  • bill August 14, 2023 (9:06 pm)

    The photos are … not intended for other law enforcement action.” So nothing was learned from the death of Robb Mason, killed by a driver cheating the low bridge restrictions. It is as near certain as anything can be that the bridge camera took a picture of the car, but the driver nearly got away with murder because the images were off limits for anything other than a piddling bridge fine. (And I should add the driver has not been tried yet, so he may still get away with murder.)

  • MLI August 14, 2023 (9:20 pm)

    When I’m on the bus on the West Seattle bridge it seems like a lot of drivers in the bus lane are in it because they can’t get into another lane immediately. They need more time to get over. 

    • C August 14, 2023 (10:10 pm)

      Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time if you actually are driving the speed limit and paying attention- that would be too much to ask from Seattle drivers though. 

      • msw August 14, 2023 (11:48 pm)

        You can drive the speed limit all you want but if people don’t let you into the lane for 99, you will be traveling down the bus lane looking for an opening. 

  • JustJedSaid August 14, 2023 (9:46 pm)

    I’d just like to know how much revenue is being lost on all the expired tabs roaming around? I sure hope the compounding penalties and back renewal fees don’t get waived for all these people. That wouldn’t be fair to the rest of us who follow the law.

    • Jim August 14, 2023 (10:44 pm)

      There aren’t any back renewal fees or anything compounding

      • JustJedSaid August 15, 2023 (6:20 am)

        Says the man with 2020 car tabs.

    • Rhonda August 14, 2023 (11:23 pm)

      Back renewal fees and compounding penalties would simply further discourage anyone from buying their tabs late. Especially since there’s obviously no penalties for those driving around without current tabs in Seattle and most of Western Washington.

    • bill August 15, 2023 (8:06 am)

      There is a hefty fine if a police officer writes you a ticket for expired tabs. (The fine from a parking officer is much less, by the way.) I learned that when my new tabs were lost in the mail and I forgot about them. Plus the period for free replacement had passed so I had to pay the replacement fee, too. 

      • Rhonda August 15, 2023 (2:23 pm)

        In the RTA/Sound Transit funding region, a non-current tabs citation is often hundreds of dollars less than the annual registration for most later-model vehicles.

  • WS Resident August 14, 2023 (10:59 pm)

    So, they won’t do speed bumps or camera on Alki or Harbor Ave where speeding is a real safety issue, but they’ll crack down on lane violations. Typical Seattle government. 

  • Mark Schletty August 15, 2023 (9:56 am)

    Just an observation— i cross the bridge several times per week and whenever there has been a bus on the bridge it has been driving in the far right lane (eastbound), not in the bus lane. Will the cameras enforce the bus lane on the buses too? I seem to remember that heavy buses and trucks driving in the far right lane contributed to the bridge damage. Plus it seems highly unfair that the buses have a dedicated lane which we cant use and then drive in and plug up the lane meant for the rest of us.

    • Cass August 29, 2023 (12:55 pm)

      I use the bridge and rarely see busses in their designated lane.  Coming up the rise from West Seattle, often the bus will chose to use the right lane.  It  lumbers slowly to the right lane leaving the bus lane unoccupied. The driver’s  “choice” causes cars to slow below the speed limit to accommodate the bus.  Should cars have the option to use the empty bus lane to pass the driver who is causing a backup of traffic? Bus needs to be equally photographed and fined for using the wrong lane.  Or eliminate the bus lane for ineffectiveness.

  • anonyme August 15, 2023 (10:03 am)

    What good does it do to have more “accessible” walk signals when drivers won’t yield to pedestrians in controlled crosswalks?  On two separate occasions last week, I was almost hit by three different vehicles (each time), once at 42nd & Alaska by QFC, and at 35th & Barton.  At Barton, one of the vehicles in violation was a RR bus, missing me by inches in the middle of the crosswalk as it turned off 35th.   I need to start carrying a cane again for self-defense.  Wonder what pepper spray would do to a paint job?

  • wetone August 15, 2023 (10:31 am)

    Once again a feel goody from city on our traffic issues. Program will cost more than it intakes. Having zero affect on the problems. As mentioned very easy to get infraction erased if wanted, but for most violating the laws they could care less. Traffic and criminal behavior will continue on downhill slide until Seattle gets more police officers and placing them in areas needed. Ticketing and if needed arresting, with legal system charging ALL causing issues. The state and city’s political mindset is what’s allowing these problems to worsen. Bright side is Spokane st viaduct will soon be closed for needed repairs, making highrise useless once again;)

  • watertowerjim August 15, 2023 (10:32 am)

    But the real question – at least over the last three years – is it equitable?If not, we must cancel, right?

  • Jon Wright August 15, 2023 (1:48 pm)

    It’s a start. As the roads get more and more lawless–a much bigger existential threat to my family than some overwrought notion of “big brother”–I’d like to see cameras everywhere. Bus lane cameras, speeding cameras, crosswalk cameras, intersection-blocking cameras, bike lane cameras, red light, school zone cameras. Only other thing to do is to eliminate that B.S. “I wasn’t driving!” scam that lets people off the hook.

    • Bob August 15, 2023 (8:12 pm)

      Jon, it’s ok that you’re scared of driving and your ability to create a straw man is second to none, however, that doesn’t mean anyone else is comfortable being surveilled every waking moment. Public transportation is a wonderful avenue that I encourage you and your family to explore more robustly. Cheers!

    • Jeff August 16, 2023 (12:10 pm)

      Then use speed bumps and bollards. Not backwards-thinking cameras that do nothing but are invasive.

  • Boris August 15, 2023 (1:59 pm)

    The bus lane on the W.S. Bridge going eastbound is idiotic as it is presently set up.The whole moronic set-up hinders the very normal quest to reach the crest of the bridge and look over to view I-5 traffic as it is in that moment, and then alter routes based on whether it is stop-and-go, or stop-and-stop on the freeway.The greatest bottlenecks for buses are well down the eastern slope and the bus lane does not need to hinder common sense drivers who, in theory, can’t then include highway 99 as an option after they’ve already opted for the Spokane st. viaduct and learned the fate of I-5 traffic in the precise moment of their travel.The greatest screw-ups aren’t your fellow drivers, they are the clueless people you have as city/county workers who don’t exhibit enough common sense to consider the roads as viewed by those who are using those roads.

  • WS native August 16, 2023 (7:10 am)

    so the bridge is literally filled with potholes and loose rocks (which I have submitted multiple times for the city to fix) but those don’t get addressed. Instead, we get cameras. This dumb city.

    • WSB August 16, 2023 (11:57 am)

      The Spokane Street Viaduct is slated for resurfacing, though not until next year, as we recently updated. Or are the potholes/rocks on this side of the 99 overpass?

Sorry, comment time is over.