Chiu seeks to keep cameras rolling on Muni buses

San Francisco transportation officials along with Assemblyman David Chiu are renewing efforts for Muni to keep using forward-facing cameras aboard buses to ticket drivers illegally parked or stopped in a transit-only lane.

Chiu is sponsoring AB 1287 to drop the pilot program provision of the Transit-Only Lane Enforcement program to make it permanent and to also allow the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to send out tickets to drivers driving in the transit-only lanes, blocking the intersection or crosswalk known as “blocking the box” and parking at bus stops.

The former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors wrote on his Facebook page that the program will help make Muni run faster:

“Muni is simply too slow. Transit-Only Lanes are a key part of getting Muni buses moving faster than the current 8 mile an hour average. That’s why AB 1287, which continues and expands camera enforcement of the lanes, is another important tool as we try to improve Muni reliability.”

The SFMTA started using the cameras in 2008 with the help of then Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who sponsored the bill to allow the transit agency to use the cameras through a pilot program. Ma also sponsored the bill to reauthorize the pilot in 2011.

When the program started in 2008, only 30 buses had the forward-facing cameras. Now all of Muni’s buses have the cameras.

The transit agency said since the implementation of the camera enforcement, the 38-Geary limited route saw a 3 percent daily and 7 percent afternoon reduction in delays in the westbound direction of Geary Street.

The 2-Clement and 3-Jackson saw a double-digit reduction delays of 15 percent daily and 20 percent in the late afternoon in the westbound direction of Sutter Street.

San Francisco has 26 miles of transit-only lanes with most of the lanes painted red now to reinforce the message to drivers to not drive in the lane.

Drivers caught in parked in a transit-only lane will receive a $110 fine in the mail. Parking in a bus zone is a $279 fine, according to the SFMTA.

The transit agency said once drivers have received a citation, it has seen fewer repeat offenders.

The SFMTA is planning for another 22 miles of transit-only lanes over the next decade, including stretches of Taraval and Mission streets.