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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.

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