Slow start in effort to quicken Muni

A crackdown on double parkers in transit-only lanes, said to be an obstacle to Muni’s on-time performance, is off to a sputtering start with only one double parker busted since cameras were installed in The City’s buses.

The installation of cameras in the front of buses is The City’s latest attempt to help Muni meet mandated on-time performance and is designed to clear the roads of drivers who illegally park in transit-only lanes. Muni buses, which carry nearly 700,000 passengers each day, can be significantly hindered by vehicles double parked in transit lanes, Mayor Gavin Newsom said at the inception of the pilot program. He called double parking a significant hindrance in the on-time performance of Muni.

The pilot program began Jan. 4 after receiving the required approval by state lawmakers and the governor. But, after the first 30 days, the plan has yet to produce results.

“It is much too early in the pilot to draw any conclusions about this effort,” mayor’s spokesman Nathan Ballard said when asked about the lack of results. “Our goal is to improve Muni’s on-time performance any way we can, and we know that getting double parkers out of the way of the buses will help.”

The fine in San Francisco for double parking in transit-only lanes is a hefty $100.The lone lawbreaker isn’t even required to pay the fine: The City has to send out warnings in the first month of the program. Muni decided to extend that warning period to March 1 and The City won’t start generating revenue until then. Muni spokeswoman Janis Yuen said the agency is still streamlining the pilot program.

The City has 19 streets with more than 14 miles of transit-only zones, including the major thoroughfares of Geary Boulevard, Market, Mission, O’Farrell, Post, Potrero and Sacramento streets. Muni has installed cameras on a total of six buses, Yuen said. Cameras on the 38-Geary line film between Market and Gough streets and the 14-Mission (express and limited) has the camera running between Main and 11th streets. Bus drivers don’t play a role in capturing the footage; it is reviewed later by the Department of Parking and Traffic.

Each camera costs about $30,000, although The City received the current six on loan from Parthex Inc.

If the first 90 days are successful, officials will inform the state Legislature and continue the pilot by installing cameras on other buses operating in transit-only lanes, according to the Mayor’s Office.

bbegin@examiner.com

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