Muni has been shy about going on the record about their lack of public records. So, a tip of the hat to ABC 7 for doggedly pursuing reports on the functionality of Muni’s security cameras. After filing a public records request, ABC 7 received a report that was released to the MTA board weeks ago stating that 22% of Muni cameras were non-operational and 30% were “partially operational.”

Apparently this is what it takes to get access to information from the transit organization! We at the Appeal are not the only ones who’ve been wondering what is up with the cameras, as many crimes and/or injuries have escaped being filmed this year because of broken or nonexistent surveillance equipment. (It’s also been rumored that Muni drivers are breaking the cameras on purpose, but we’ve been unable to confirm that allegation.)

Inquiries by Appeal editor Eve Batey for camera footage have been rebuffed since April, when we received reports of a driver refusing to pick up a physically disabled passenger. We;ve made several other requests, none of which were met with actual footage. So we’re happy to read that ABC 7’s team finally prevailed in the fight for information.

This is striking when considering a recent blog post by Mayor Newsom about government transparency. Cribbing from President Obama’s new open source public records site, our Mayor has challenged city officials to provide all non-confidential records to a website called

So, is Muni not on board or what? It seems like the camera statistics were headed for a burn-after-reading envelope, not a data site meant for public mining. The City already has transit related cameras that are exempt from local sunshine laws. Will Muni’s trend of hiding data continue despite Newsom’s public call for transparency?

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  • Greg Dewar

    There’s a more basic problem here. Clearly this information was known when a Big Press Conference about stickers was held, but someone told someone not to say these exact figures.

    I’m used to “Mayor” Newsom saying one thing and doing another, or not meaning what he says. There’s no reason Everyone Else has to follow his lead, however.

  • Matt Baume

    It’s pretty incredible that the city’s attorneys wanted to keep the number of broken cameras secret. How can anyone trust Muni?

  • LibertyHiller

    Well, I trust Muni.

    That is, I trust Muni to be erratic, dirty and dangerous. I depend on Muni to make getting to work an adventure, and getting home a voyage that would stagger Ulysses. I count on Muni’s drivers to be surly to anyone outside their ethnic group, and intent on covering their own hides at the expense of passenger safety. I rely on Muni’s leadership to collect ridiculously huge paychecks while looking for better-paid jobs at other transit systems. I am confident that anything coming out of a Muni spokesperson’s mouth has more obfuscation and missing details than a Soviet-era issue of Pravda.

  • kfarr

    It’s not just Muni, an even higher percentage of SF taxicab cameras don’t work either: