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.

Think of “Ask the Appeal” as your own personal genie: no Bay-related question is too big or too small. Whether you’re concerned with a municipal question, a consumer advocacy issue or simply with consuming alcohol, email us your questions at ask@sfappeal.com. We’ll either do the dirty work and talk to the folks in charge, contact an expert in the field, or – if your question is particularly intriguing or juicy – develop it into a full-blown investigative article.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!
  • Matt Ghali

    Film? Really!? Who designed this system for Muni, Thomas Edison?

  • Matt Ghali

    Film? Really!? Who designed this system for Muni, Thomas Edison?

  • Eve Batey

    Dude. Lumiere bros.

  • Eve Batey

    Dude. Lumiere bros.

  • Matt Baume

    I can’t help but notice that she dodged the question about whether they’re effective. Oh sure, they issued “more than” 880 citations — let’s assume that means 881 — at $78 apiece, which comes out to $68,718. That’s about one third what they paid for the cameras; and we’ll never know the cost of the labor to install and maintain them, or to process the tickets.

    But are there fewer double-parkers? Is Muni moving faster?

  • Matt Baume

    I can’t help but notice that she dodged the question about whether they’re effective. Oh sure, they issued “more than” 880 citations — let’s assume that means 881 — at $78 apiece, which comes out to $68,718. That’s about one third what they paid for the cameras; and we’ll never know the cost of the labor to install and maintain them, or to process the tickets.

    But are there fewer double-parkers? Is Muni moving faster?

  • Erik

    Requiring rule enforcement systems to pay for themselves with fines is a terrible idea.

  • Erik

    Requiring rule enforcement systems to pay for themselves with fines is a terrible idea.

  • Erik

    And video footage of the double-parking is more conclusive than a single photo if someone tries to challenge their ticket.

  • Erik

    And video footage of the double-parking is more conclusive than a single photo if someone tries to challenge their ticket.

  • Jimbo

    So where in my car can I find the button for reporting Muni drivers who don’t pull into the bus zone?

  • Jimbo

    So where in my car can I find the button for reporting Muni drivers who don’t pull into the bus zone?

  • Erik

    That’s not illegal.

  • Erik

    That’s not illegal.

  • Jimbo

    Blocking traffic is, however. They should get rid of bus zones if they’re not going to use them.

  • Jimbo

    Blocking traffic is, however. They should get rid of bus zones if they’re not going to use them.