Muni eyeing plan to keep watch on buses 

click to enlarge Cost: A $6 million camera contract for Muni would be federally funded. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • Cost: A $6 million camera contract for Muni would be federally funded.

Muni passengers may want to be more mindful of their actions in the near future. The agency is set to outfit about one-third of its fleet with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors will vote on a $6 million contract to install digital video cameras on 357 buses.

The program will be entirely funded by a grant provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

If the plan is approved Tuesday, the agency will install the cameras over the next four years. If the program is deemed successful, there is an option to add digital cameras to the remaining 613 buses and light-rail vehicles not covered in the first phase of implementation.

The agency has had issues with its onboard surveillance equipment. In 2009, an 11-year-old passenger was stabbed by a transient aboard a Muni bus. The incident wasn’t captured on video because the cameras in the vehicle weren’t working at the time. An audit later revealed that only about 48 percent of the cameras on Muni vehicles were fully functional. Following that report, the SFMTA invested $1.2 million into upgrading its equipment.

The proposed surveillance program would replace those cameras with new digital video devices. The new cameras would be placed in Muni’s diesel and electric buses.

Along with installing the cameras, the new program includes a central management system in which video footage can be uploaded and viewed from three different maintenance facilities.

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Will Reisman

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