My question is about the new cameras showing up on buses, the ones meant to capture parking violators. How much did they cost? Have they been an effective deterrent to double parking? Is Muni actually running faster?

Also, what kind of training do drivers get for using the cameras? Do you feel that there’s any risk of them having an accident while trying to operate the cameras?

According to SFMTA spokesperson Kristen Holland, it cost $177,455 for 22 camera systems (parts and labor). She told me in an email that “More than 880 citations have been issued for double parking in a transit lane or for parking in a bus zone along a transit lane,” adding that “[they] know that double parking and blocking bus zones have a direct impact on Muni service.”

In response to my question about training, she included the directions provided in the Operator Bulletin:

“Each time you find a vehicle parked in the bus only lane, simply push the event marker, toggle switch or pushbutton, on the upper left side panel, just next to the door control buttons. You only need to push it one time and you will mark that section of film for processing.

You don’t need to slow down to get the camera shot or pull up behind the vehicle, just work your way past the vehicle as you normally would. You don’t need to fill out any form or make any statements; your participation with this project is just to push the button to mark that section of the videotape.”

Apparently, SFMTA doesn’t feel that there is any accident risk: “the Operators are not instructed to ‘operate the camera,'” Holland wrote. “They have been asked to press a button or hit a toggle switch (depending on the manufacturer) that is within easy reach. If the action would jeopardize safety then they should forgo taking that action.

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