Bus-Mounted Cameras for Transit-Only Lanes: More Please

It may be hard to tell, but mid-Market Street’s center lanes are supposed to be free of private automobiles. That’s right — all of those drivers on the trolley tracks, blocking buses from using boarding islands, are probably there illegally (it depends on the block).

While this new Stanley Roberts segment about transit lane enforcement with bus-mounted cameras spends a lot of time exclaiming about the fines for drivers, the fact is that San Francisco needs much more bus lane enforcement to really keep transit running smoothly.

San Francisco’s limited 17-mile network of transit-only lanes generally isn’t marked very clearly, and enforcement was virtually non-existent before Muni installed 30 bus-mounted cameras in 2009. The pilot program, which sends fines to violators by mail, is slated for a much-needed expansion to 300 buses early next year.

To help make transit-only lanes more intuitive, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency also plans to expand its use of colored bus lane treatments, starting with a pilot project on Church Street set for implementation any day now (the latest construction schedule was delayed by rain in November). New York City has been expanding colored bus lanes recently in conjunction with camera enforcement and other improvements on its Select Bus Service routes, which have improved travel times by 15 to 20 percent on some of the highest-ridership bus lines in the nation. Muni plans to implement similar improvements on eight priority routes in its Transit Effectiveness Project, though they’re not set to go in until 2014. Physically-separated, colored transit lanes will also be used on the Geary and Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit routes.

The SFMTA has to keep on expanding the use camera enforcement and well-marked transit lanes to save Muni riders from getting bogged down behind double-parked cars.

  • Mario Tanev

    The J Church pilot has been delayed until January, at the very least.

  • J

    In the video, it says that the bus cameras can only be used to issue parking violations and not moving violations. It seems to me that this mean that drivers caught driving in the bus lane but not parked in the bus lane don’t get tickets. Is that correct? Double parked cars are certainly a bigger problem, in terms of delaying buses, so this seems acceptable,, but I wanted to clarify. 

  • Sprague

    I wonder why the delay.  It is exciting to see Muni promoting this transit upgrade on board buses.  Now all that’s needed is paint on the pavement and enforcement.

  • Right, SFMTA can’t enforce moving violations, only SFPD.

  • Mario Tanev

    It’s just not a priority for them. They were first going to do it in September. Then they moved it to November, and even though there were a couple of sunny weekends in between, they didn’t bother doing it. The Fell bike lanes got painted on weeknights because of the pressure and nobody gave them pressure on the transit lanes, so they just took their time. In the search for perfection, a lot of opportunity is lost. Look at the bicycle sharing debacle.

  • Joel

    Fun fact: double parking CAN be a moving violation. I believe the driver has to be in the vehicle with the engine running, which would be impeding the flow of traffic. Otherwise, it’s just a parking violation.

  • From the sound of it, we need some green light cameras to get these people.
    Doubt we’ll see those in a few years, if it is going to happen at all.

    People are not going to care about driving in the transit-only lanes.
    They just want to get to where they are going and if a lane besides them is open, they are going for it.

  • mikesonn

    A comment on Stanely’s Facebook page:

    “When do we get the buses out of our lanes?”

    That’s what we are dealing with…

  • Sprague

    It seems ridiculous to invest in technology designed to efficiently enforce existing laws and then not be able to utilize that technology to its fullest extent.  If a SFPD officer reviews the footage, perhaps then a ticket for a moving violation in a bus lane could be issued?

    On a related note, outfitting street sweeping vehicles with similar cameras would also help to streamline SF government and protect SF’s budget – it seems.  The current system of “meter maids” waiting for the street sweeper to then all deploy together seems to be an inefficient use of expensive public service.

  • Sprague

    San Francisco’s long suffering transit riders and cyclists are a patient lot, used to lengthy delays for a myriad of reasons.  With the MTA’s new manager, it looked like the pace of improvement started to pick up.  The MTA’s credibility is diminished when they don’t deliver projects close to the timeline that they promise.

  • Anonymous

    You can also blame the legislature, and specifically that douche Sen. Lowenthal, for trying to stop this from happening. I saw him in a hearing and he was layering all kinds of crap on the project, all because he didn’t want agencies going “bounty hunting” against innocent cars. 

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