Today - Thursday, November 9, 2023 - Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by Councilmember Squilla, SEPTA General Manager/CEO Leslie Richards, Philadelphia Parking Authority Executive Director Richard Lazer, and advocate groups to officially sign into law Bill No. 230489 - entitled “Camera-Based Enforcement System For Parking, Stopping, and Standing Violations That Interfere With Mass Transit.”
This city ordinance will allow SEPTA to employ the use of camera-based parking enforcement technology on its buses to target illegally parked vehicles blocking transit stops and bus lanes. The aim is to decrease traffic congestion, improve traffic safety, and address the climate crisis in Philadelphia.
The ordinance will allow for camera-based enforcement on Bainbridge and Spring Garden Streets from river to river as well as the entirety of JFK Boulevard, Walnut, Chestnut, and Market Streets.
“I’m proud to sign this bill into law. It is another innovative step forward to keep Philadelphians safe and traffic moving smoothly. Thanks to these cameras - we are increasing efficiency in our streets to make our city even more accessible. I want to thank everyone who made this bill possible,” said Mayor Kenney.
Earlier this year - SEPTA partnered with Hayden AI to equip buses with AI-driven cameras as part of a pilot program, which monitored bus lanes and stops for illegally parked vehicles, along Routes 21 and 42. Over the course of the 70-day trial - the technology found more than 36,000 instances of obstruction in Center City, West Philadelphia, and Upper Darby. In New York City - where this type of technology has been deployed since 2019 - bus speeds have increased by as much as 40 percent on enforced routes.
"This is a major step forward with SEPTA’s efforts to make travel safer and more accessible, while also improving reliability,” said SEPTA General Manager/CEO Leslie S. Richards. "We are grateful to City Council and Mayor Kenney for supporting this initiative and we are excited about the improvements it will allow SEPTA to deliver to our customers and the city.”
This legislation will improve transportation for all Philadelphians especially those with disabilities as parking infractions create prohibitive and dangerous scenarios for wheelchair users.
Blocked bus stops and curb ramps create serious safety and accessibility issues – especially for seniors and riders with disabilities – as bus operators cannot safely deploy the wheelchair access ramp when the bus stop is blocked.
The bill was introduced to Philadelphia City Council by Councilmember Mark Squilla (1st District) on June 8, 2023 and was passed unanimously on October 26, 2023.
“I was happy to work with SEPTA, OTIS, PPA and advocates for those with different abilities to pass legislation that allows for automated enforcement of vehicles blocking bus zones, lanes and ramps,” said Councilmember Mark Squilla (1st District). “I believe these automated enforcement measures will make it safer for all transit users and alleviate traffic congestion.”
Congestion equals wasted time! A typical bus rider spends 31 additional hours on the bus every year because of Center City congestion and the slower buses cost SEPTA an additional $15 million in operating costs every year.
Illegally parked and double-parked vehicles also throw buses off schedule. This is particularly true for trolleys - which unlike buses - cannot travel around a double-parked car blocking the travel lane.
This legislation helps emphasize the fact that good public transportation is vital for community health and connectivity.