FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge bus-lane enforcement camera to be installed this weekend

ORIGINAL THURSDAY REPORT: Three and a half weeks after SDOT announced it would install a bus-lane-enforcement camera on the West Seattle Bridge, installation is scheduled for this weekend. SDOT just sent word that crews will be working on the bridge Saturday (September 9th) “between about 7 am and 5 pm to allow for installation of the camera as well as warning signs and Seattle City Light inspection.” After that, there will be a 30-day grace period before SDOT activates the camera. This is part of a “pilot program” in which the city also has transit-lane and “block the box” cameras downtown. The first violation will get you a warning letter; the second, a $75 fine.

P.S. The installation is the second project that’s likely to affect eastbound traffic on the high bridge Saturday – the ramp to southbound I-5 will be closed from late Friday to early Sunday.

ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Much discussion below centers on whether you’ll be ticketed simply for crossing the lane. We asked SDOT to clarify. Here’s what spokesperson Mariam Ali sent:

Here is a clip from the design plans that shows the detection zone in yellow-green:

Anyone mistakenly in the exit-only lane will have ample space to change lanes to the thru lanes before the exit gore.

87 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge bus-lane enforcement camera to be installed this weekend"

  • DJ Allyn September 7, 2023 (5:33 pm)

    Does this mean the buses will stay out of the OTHER lanes?I mean seriously, ever since they added that ‘bus lane’, I have yet to actually see a bus use them.  Instead, they will clog up the lanes for the rest of us.Don’t get me started on the BAD design for all the rapid bus stops.  Talk about creating a choke point on the road.  When a bus has to stop to pick up a passenger, why do the REST of us have to stop with them?Finally, this entire social experiment to get our butts out of cars and onto public transportation has been a total failure.  Buses are running at about twenty percent capacity, light rail will NEVER appear in West Seattle in yours and my lifetime, and we really need to stop pretending that it will ever work.

    • Santiago September 7, 2023 (7:10 pm)

      Buses, even at 20 percent capacity carry more people than any car with just the driver on it. It’s replacing dozens of cars on the road. You should be thankful they are there. They should have priority lane and use other lanes as needed. It’s very weird to see people thinking of public transit as some sort of punishment. 

    • Amen September 7, 2023 (7:41 pm)

      I second this response. 

    • bill September 7, 2023 (7:52 pm)

      The rest of you have to stop because with the previous bus stops, most of you would not let a bus merge back into traffic. 

    • Alki resident September 7, 2023 (7:52 pm)

      AMEN to all of it. But what’s stopping you from using the bus lane say heading to Burien for instance? The bus comes once an hour. 

      • PJS September 7, 2023 (10:38 pm)

        The H line runs every 7-10 minutes

    • Amy September 7, 2023 (8:19 pm)

      I was in that ‘bus lane’ this morning at 8:10a on the H Rapid Ride. 

    • Josh September 7, 2023 (9:02 pm)

      Weird, every time I take the 21 it only uses the bus lane while on the bridge. 

    • Kelly September 7, 2023 (9:37 pm)

      I think you’ve made the mistake of holding buses and cars to a different standard. Cars kill 40,000 people a year in this country, and they contribute to hundreds of hours wasted sitting in traffic as well as massive sprawl and pollution. Buses allow people to choose a car-free or car-light lifestyle and to walk more, and carry more people than cars in the same road space. Which part of that is a failure?The only failure is that we as a society haven’t invested enough in buses yet, making travel by car still the fastest way to get around. If we can finally use bus lanes to make buses the fastest way to get downtown at rush hour, we can stop punishing people for making the responsible choice. 

    • rationalthinking September 8, 2023 (3:29 am)

      oh look, another comment on this blog from a person that can’t be bother to ride the bus once in their 40 years fermenting in Seattle. if you rode any metro around here you’d see, objectively, it moves a significant amount of people. even if you see an empty bus once in a while doesn’t mean people aren’t getting around by bus. and if you rode the bus at all, you’d realize how absolutely out of this world your thinking is. public transit is just an experiment we have to admit failed? you would rather every person riding transit to shift over to using a car as the 1 and only mode of transit, DJ? you think that would have LESS of an impact on your daily commute than the bus having to use “your” lane? hell, less of an impact on your community when literally the only way to scale up car infra is via sprawl of lanes and parking lots? it’s wild you can feel so strongly and be so wrongly

    • D Martin September 8, 2023 (5:40 am)

      Last year I went to New York City, and stayed with a friend in Brooklyn, and a hotel in Manhattan. Even thought we took the subway everywhere, and it seemed like no one he knew had a car, the small streets were still packed with bumper to bumper traffic. I don’t get it, but that’s the way it is, and at least they had a very good option of not having to deal with driving. 

    • Another One September 8, 2023 (9:39 am)

      So what you’re saying is, you want 100s more cars in front of you on the road? 

    • JN September 8, 2023 (10:43 am)

      Any suggestions to solve the problem of too many cars DJ?We could eliminate all of the busses, bus lanes, rapid ride bulges, bicycle lanes and even sidewalks to create ‘additional’ vehicle lanes and still be faced with a complete gridlock of cars and parked cars.

  • Rusty September 7, 2023 (5:45 pm)

    What are the rules going to be on this? Entering from the Delridge onramp going eastbound you have to cross over the middle bus only lane to get onto I-5.

    • Also John September 7, 2023 (7:11 pm)

      That only happens once you reach the center/top of the bridge.   It doesn’t take that long to cross over….

      • Rusty September 8, 2023 (12:08 am)

        So you have to be super quick and hope someone let’s you in out the kindness of their heart to not get a ticket? From Delridge you join on the freeway on the uphill. If you don’t immediately get over you’re forced on 99. 

        • sam-c September 8, 2023 (7:13 am)

          True, it’s technically feasibly to cross over between the Delridge on-ramp and the re-start of the bas lane ant the crest.  But I’ve often been unable to get over, to head to I-5 because some driver is speeding, trying to pass someone in the far left lane.  Technically, it’s illegal to pass on the right but it happens all the time & more often than not, the fastest drivers on the West Seattle bridge (eastbound) are in the middle lane. (those are also the ones who are probably merging over the double white to the I5 on-ramp)  Sometimes it’s hard to match their speed because you are heading up the Delridge on-ramp behind a bus or a semi full of rebar.    So, technically it’s all feasible to merge left, but good luck!   The people dismissing these concerns are probably the ones speeding in the middle lane.

          • sam-c September 8, 2023 (10:41 am)

            *BUS lane AT the crest*(edit option didn’t appear when originally submitting my comment)

        • foop September 8, 2023 (8:45 am)

          You don’t have to be super quick. It’s really not hard and there’s plenty of time to get over. It’s even easier if you use that strange stalk to the left of your steering wheel. Thanks for telling on yourself though.

    • Santiago September 7, 2023 (7:11 pm)

      The bus lan starts further down the road, at a normal speed, there’s enough time to cross Into the hwy 99 exit

      • Rusty September 8, 2023 (12:12 am)

        Yes, the bus lane starts further UP from that onramp. It’s already in existence when you join on from Delridge, I do it everyday. I have to pass through the bus lane to get onto the normal car lanes. Am I going to get a ticket for trying to merge which in forced to do? 

    • Benjamin September 8, 2023 (8:33 am)

      Rusty is correct.  for people who enter the bridge via Delridge, there is not much time to get up to speed and get over, as we all know that those entering from Avalon or Admiral, or 35th, are not going even close to the posted speed limit. 

  • DelridgeDriver September 7, 2023 (5:59 pm)

    Also on Delridge, please, please, please!

    • Jeepney September 8, 2023 (8:29 am)

      What specific part of Delridge?

      • sam-c September 8, 2023 (10:44 am)

        See a lot of impatient bus lane violators on the NB stretch from SW Alaska to SW Dakota.  

  • West Seattle Mad Sci Guy September 7, 2023 (6:40 pm)

    How does it work if you need to pass through the bus lane to get to the hwy 99 exit?

    • Also John September 7, 2023 (7:13 pm)

      Why wait that long…seriously?  Simply be in the right hand lane as you enter the bridge.

      • Kyle September 7, 2023 (8:57 pm)

        Because the bridge adds to right hand lanes if you are coming from the junction? Honestly if you’re not familiar the bus lane comes up very abruptly when cars are merging and you’re going up a grade

        • DelridgeDriver September 8, 2023 (9:23 am)

          “Honestly if you’re not familiar the bus lane comes up very abruptly”They’re providing a warning for first offense. For those unfamiliar, they shouldn’t make the same mistake twice. For those familiar with the configuration, make your decision before the crest of the bridge, get the in the correct lane, then stay there. There’s no need to cross the bus lane.

          • Kyle September 8, 2023 (1:55 pm)

            Naw this isn’t it. The whole point of enforcement is people trying to ride thru the bus lane because general traffic lanes are backed up. Arbitrarily trying to restrict lane changes for ane xit that comes up quickly on a bridge that was retrofitted with a bus lane is not the goal. The cameras should be smart enough to determine if a driver rode through the bus lane for a significant amount of time to get around a traffic backup, or if the driver was passing through to safely merge lanes.

        • Jeff September 8, 2023 (1:15 pm)

          Kyle, you are creating a problem that isn’t there. Get on the bridge properly and you are fine. 

  • kjb September 7, 2023 (6:44 pm)

    How does it work if you need to get around a bus that isn’t using the bus lane?

    • Santiago September 7, 2023 (7:12 pm)

      You don’t go around. Just stay behind the vehicle transporting more people than you. 

    • Kelly September 7, 2023 (8:43 pm)

      If buses aren’t using the bus lane, it’s because they are clogged with cars and the other lanes are faster. If bus lanes stay clear for buses, they will definitely use them. The faster the buses run, the more people who use them, the fewer cars in the car lanes creating traffic for everyone. It’s a virtuous cycle. 

    • LeR September 7, 2023 (11:49 pm)

      Umm. Just like you can’t use the HOV lane to pass someone in the left nonHOV lane when you don’t have 2 or more people in the car….  you don’t. 

  • wetone September 7, 2023 (6:45 pm)

    Can anyone tell me where cameras such as this really helped the issue they were installed for ? I wish it was that simple, but with so many vehicles not in drivers name or drivers that don’t care because they won’t pay fines I expect very little impact.  Now you put 1 police officer on a motorcycle up there pulling all law breakers over game on. But that will never happen in this city because they don’t want to deal with the results…… ;)

    • Josh September 7, 2023 (9:10 pm)

      Maybe you just get to accept the choice you made. Pro tip, put your directions into your phone and it will give you a pretty good estimate as to the best route to your destination. It will even give several options with estimated times. Pick one and stick with it, even if maybe you might save a few seconds going another way at least you can be proud of staying the course. 

    • Chels P September 8, 2023 (6:20 am)

      It makes the city more money without having to actually do anything. Duh😂

    • jw September 8, 2023 (3:09 pm)

      In New York City the cameras were activated in some boroughs  with a reduction in speeds and the number of injuries in its first year of operation.  This is occurred even with the bent license plate and obscured plates tricks of New Yorkers.

    • jw September 8, 2023 (3:34 pm)

      In New York City the cameras were activated in some boroughs  with a reduction in speeds and the number of injuries in its first year of operation.  This is occurred even with the bent license plates and obscured plates tricks of New Yorkers.

  • Admiral-2009 September 7, 2023 (6:49 pm)

    During midday off peak times, what happens when a motorist sees the the I-5 NB ramp is queued significantly and elects to the use SR-99 or visa versa that requires crossing the bus lane?  The bus lane begins at the west crest of the vertical curve that limits the ability of drivers to choose amongst the routes based on observing the situation first hand.  

  • William September 7, 2023 (7:19 pm)

    We all have the same question. How do we get onto 99 without crossing into the bus lane?

    • WSB September 7, 2023 (7:26 pm)

      We’ll be following up on that – this came in at day’s end (for the sender) so there was no time to get a followup in.

    • GatewoodResident September 7, 2023 (7:30 pm)

      This isn’t just a camera issue. I got an HOV violation ticket from SPD for crossing through the bus lane when I decided to take 99 due to I-5 backup. You can’t actually see and react to the traffic for either choice until you get over the rise which is after the lane dotted lines disappear. I made this point but both the cops and the court claimed I was in the lane for a prolonged period of time.

      • Jort September 7, 2023 (11:41 pm)

        You got the ticket and the court upheld it because you were, in fact, in the wrong and did, in fact, break the law. The lane pretty clearly says “BUS ONLY,” not “BUS (and people who change their mind about where they want to drive) ONLY.” If you want to be in the lane, then get on the bus. The lane isn’t cleared out so that it’s easier for drivers to pick their favorite, fastest route. 

        • K September 8, 2023 (6:56 am)

          Stringent adherence to the law and enforcement of severe punishments and jail time only apply to RVs parked over 72 hours and homeless people who sleep in publicly-owned greenbelts.  Mitigating circumstances and poorly-designed systems only exist for housed people.

      • Jeff September 8, 2023 (9:15 am)

        I cross that bus lane all the time for NB 99 and never gotten a ticket. Didn’t even know you could get one…

    • Put the Phone Down September 7, 2023 (7:49 pm)

      There is no bus lane restriction between the Delridge on ramp and the crest of the bridge.

  • Sarah Rice September 7, 2023 (7:46 pm)

    On the eastbound lanes (either coming down from Fauntleroy or from Delridge), there is a lengthy section that is NOT marked as “Bus Only”.  This is so you can make your lane changes to go to I-5 or to Hwy 99.  On the downhill side of the bridge, the lane goes back to “Bus Only”.   There is plenty of distance for anybody to make these transitions before the Bus Only designation pops up again.

  • LG September 7, 2023 (7:55 pm)

    Why can’t we have cameras to catch all the d-bags who cross over the solid white line to cut in line on eastbound part of bridge getting onto I-5 north? It’s more of a crime being one of those douches than it is to drive in a bus lane. 

  • Christopher B. September 7, 2023 (8:09 pm)

    I’d love to see them set up a camera to catch all of the line jumpers at the merge from the West Seattle Bridge to I-5 North. The selfish entitlement regularly on display there is incredible. 

    • CARGUY September 7, 2023 (8:54 pm)

      Agree, I’ve crossed this bridge is stop and go traffic thousands of times. I never see bus lane abusers, but every time I merge into i5 North I see people crossing the double white line forcing themselves into the northbound on ramp. This would be a much better use of a traffic camera to be placed here

      • Sam-c September 7, 2023 (9:36 pm)

        I totally agree with these 2 comments.

      • Odd son September 7, 2023 (11:48 pm)

        You never see bus lane abusers? I saw them almost daily for the 20+ years prior to the closure.

        • CARGUY September 8, 2023 (7:59 am)

          I never have seen a single one. (in that particular bus lane on the WSB) Granted that I have not commuted in peak traffic since a few years before the closure. I still see plenty on delridge that fly down the bus lane. I have a suspicion the Motorcycle traffic officer that would park at the bottom of the bridge played a part in that

        • Brian September 8, 2023 (8:57 am)

          The bus lane is not 20+ years old…

          • Mike September 8, 2023 (9:40 am)

            They also hiked to school uphill in the snow both ways every day for 40 years.

          • Odd son September 8, 2023 (12:32 pm)

            It’s been there since I moved to WS in 1999 so that make it more than 20 years old.

          • James September 8, 2023 (3:21 pm)

            It was around 04, not 99

        • Jay September 8, 2023 (9:05 am)

          Since my back went out and I had to start driving, I see bus lane abusers every day and it really annoys me. If I see a bus isn’t coming, I swing out into the lane and block them. I like to watch them scream silently from the rear view mirror.

    • Odd son September 8, 2023 (1:07 pm)

      I agree about a camera being needed at the I 5 north double white line area. I asked SPD to enforce it a number of years ago (I wont say exactly because someone will be called a liar, like with the bus lane) and they told me to go to WSP. WSP told me to go to SPD so I finally got SPD to take the ball but only saw enforcement one or two days. I can only think of bus lane enforcement once or twice before “Officer Cool Shades” then only once after that. Cameras are definitely needed in both areas. I’m surprised to read so much questioning and push back from other comments. 

  • PSPS September 7, 2023 (8:34 pm)

    I guess they’re popping the corks down at American Traffic Solutions in Mesa, AZ now! They’re the outfit that installs and operates these things and they mail the “tickets” and skim 75% off the revenue and send what’s left to the city for their cut of the take.  Just remember, these aren’t “real” tickets and you’re under no obligation to pay them despite the scary-sounding wording. And, even if you do pay, they never appear on any driving record. Consider it just another toll.

  • MSW September 7, 2023 (9:38 pm)

    Wow, they sure can move fast when they have a money maker with these camera. Such BS. Big brother wants more money. 

    • Jort September 7, 2023 (11:44 pm)

      Yeah! And maybe everybody can band together and deprive greedy, greedy “big brother” of all that sweet revenue! All those drivers have to do is, uh, um, just follow the law? And not drive in the bus lane? And therefore not get the ticket? Right? Yeah, this isn’t complicated or anything, you know? Don’t want the ticket? Don’t break the law. Very, very, VERY easy to avoid this. 

  • Admiral-2009 September 7, 2023 (10:21 pm)

    Sarah after cresting the vertical EB and you then see cars queued on the route you chose without seeing the situation and then want to use the alternative route and you are now being forced the choice that is not reasonable.  For many motorists either route works pending traffic conditions, this issue needs to be further vetted.

    • Jort September 7, 2023 (11:46 pm)

      Nope! The lanes been around for five-plus years now. Make your decision and stick with it. Don’t like it? Ride the bus. “But I picked the wrong lane! I want a shortcut!” Too bad. The law is the law, don’t break it. 

    • MsChris September 8, 2023 (7:36 am)

      Isn’t this problem mitigated by moving back/placing a new travel times sign.  It seems reasonable that motorists would just want to make an informed decision… 

  • Watertowerjim September 8, 2023 (6:03 am)

    So, go to the top of the bridge in that lane, stop, and put on your blinker until someone lets you in?  This could be counter productive.

  • CAM September 8, 2023 (6:30 am)

    Everyone here claiming that they need to be able to cut across the bus lane to change their mind about their route at the last minute has never been on a fully loaded, standing room only bus that has to slam on its brakes because a random vehicle suddenly appears in front of it moving at a much slower speed and in an unpredictable manner. Slow traffic is not an excuse to violate the law. You don’t get to make a u-turn on the bridge because there’s a traffic jam and you want to go by the low bridge instead. Your choices impact everyone around you and put other people at risk. 

  • Confused September 8, 2023 (6:32 am)

    If you’re taking the SW Avalon Way on ramp towards the West Seattle Bridge eastbound lanes, there’s no access point to merge onto 99 without crossing the bus lane. I take this route every day. Is there a solution here? I only use 99 to get to work.

  • K September 8, 2023 (6:58 am)

    There are so many traffic cameras, apps with real-time traffic info, and other means to know whether 99 or I-5 is the better choice before you’re at the crest of the West Seattle bridge.  I have zero sympathy for those who get dinged for crossing the bus lane due to basically poor planning.

  • Tracey September 8, 2023 (7:11 am)

    To WSB.  Trying to not listen to all this noise above and wondering if you could update with information on how indeed we now navigate lanes on the bridge without being ticketed when we simply cross, rather than travel in, the bus lane.  It would be nice if they would just put those plastic posts, much like they have for the bike lanes, if indeed we aren’t allowed to cross the bus lane for purposes of merging, etc.   Disappointing that it came to this point.  For purposes of my blood pressure, I will just have to learn to accept it. 

    • WSB September 8, 2023 (10:13 am)

      Yes, I replied to somebody upthread explaining that this came in at day’s end so followup info wasn’t possible but I’m trying today.

  • Admiral-2009 September 8, 2023 (8:53 am)

    Jort – What bus?  Many people in WS do not have easy access to frequent transit, no midday or any service at all.  And to top it off the reliability of the 56 & 57, per my Metro app, is terrible.  

    • Jeff September 8, 2023 (10:52 am)

      Rapid ride is very reliable. I use it midday all the time with no issues.

    • K September 9, 2023 (6:18 pm)

      Midday is not when people get impatient and use the bus lane.  Peak commuting hours is when it’s worst and there are several bus lines that travel across the bridge.  Many people do have access to transit–frequent or otherwise–and don’t enjoy being stuck behind entitled cars in the bus lane.

  • Lola September 8, 2023 (11:12 am)

    I watched a guy get all the way over to the Right like he was going to take 99 then at the last Min.  he changed to the Bus lane and drove in it till he passed all the cars then got over into the So. Bound I-5 lane.  I hope he gets one of these tickets.  I have also seen people cruise all the way from when the bus lane starts and use it like it their own personal lane. 

  • Jeepney September 8, 2023 (1:35 pm)

    Will the fines be applied fairly and consistently?

  • engineer September 8, 2023 (1:56 pm)

    This bus lane has never made much sense. Bus lanes downtown, I get. Bus lane on Delridge, I get. Bus lanes help buses move more efficiently through congested areas, no doubt. But this bus lane isn’t in a congested area and the busses move at the same speed or slower than the surrounding general traffic lanes. The bottleneck in this corridor is the ramps to 99 and 5- that is where bus lanes would actually be useful. Rather than admitting this bus lane was a dumb idea, SDOT looks to continue the proud Seattle tradition of doubling down on poor decisions. See also, cramming a mega-school into Alki while nearby Schmitz Park and Lafayette would have both been better choices. 

  • Matt September 8, 2023 (2:17 pm)

    Pro tip: camera enforcement is essentially unenforceable – sign an affidavit response to the camera violation stating you weren’t driving the vehicle and the fine is waived. Works every time. 

    • heartless September 9, 2023 (7:59 am)

      Why would you take the time to encourage the worst in people?  What would your mother say?  To everyone else:  please don’t drive in the bus lane–and if you get caught, please don’t lie under oath.  Being a decent person matters.

  • Admiral-2009 September 8, 2023 (3:19 pm)

    K – I turn off my phone et al when I drive.  It is illegal to drive and use your cell phone, it’s called distracted driving that is a significant SAFETY issue.  Maybe SDoT could simply move the start of the bus lane a bit further east beyond the crest of the vertical curve to resolve this issue.

  • WSB September 8, 2023 (3:44 pm)

    For everybody who wondered “will we get ticketed for crossing the bus lane briefly?” I’ve added the SDOT reply, graphic included, to the story above. – TR

    • WS Res September 8, 2023 (6:10 pm)

      So it looks like the zone is after the 99 off-ramp, is that right?

  • Facts Matter September 8, 2023 (5:07 pm)

    Most of this could be solved if they move the bus lane to the far right lane. What purpose does it serve to be in the middle? Buses currently only come up from Delridge or Avalon, already very well positioned for a far right bus lane. WADOT SDOT have no common sense! 

  • Odd son September 8, 2023 (5:53 pm)

    It’s like everything else in Seattle and probably the US.. why can’t we just follow the law in the first place. We wouldn’t need traffic cams or all of the drama that goes with everything, day to day.

  • wetone September 9, 2023 (10:08 am)

    So if I’m understanding the SDOT graphic correctly it shows the detection zone in area of many traffic incidences since bridge reopening ? Making that section of roadway even more dangerous from those trying to shuffle over ? Seems like a very unprofessional design if so and leading to more issues it that section of roadway. You have heavy trucks and cars merging from Harbor Island, buses along with vehicles on highrise trying to get over for 1st ave exit ? Should be sporty in that section of roadway;)

Sorry, comment time is over.