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From April to June, SEPTA tested the use of artificial intelligence cameras to identify cars that block designated bus lanes or stops along Chestnut and Walnut streets. That initial trial detected about 4,000 cars blocking lanes in Center City, and 32,000 bus stop violations in West Philly and Upper Darby.
Thursday morning, Mayor Jim Kenney signed legislation that would expand the program from just a trial run. Once the cameras are installed, tickets will be issued to people who block bus stops or the red bus lanes in the extended Center City/University City area.
While AI will be used to identify violators, Christopher Puchalsky of the Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability says it will be a human being that determines if tickets will be handed out.
“It’s going to be a parking enforcement officer at the end of the day that signs off that this is an infraction,” Puchalsky said.
SEPTA GM Leslie Richards said the blockages slow down travel and cost the transit agency millions of dollars every year because of delays on routes.
Cars blocking bus stops creates big problems for people with disabilities.
Latoya Maddox said being in a wheelchair and having the bus access blocked makes traveling on SEPTA difficult, if not impossible.
“People with disabilities are put at a disadvantage, because we can’t hop off the curb, we have to be at the curb ramp, and if there’s cars at the curb ramp, we have to go around,” Maddox said.
The vehicle mounted cameras will show the blockage similar to speed cameras and red-light cameras already running in the city. A Philadelphia Parking Authority enforcement officer will be assigned to review the video and sign off on a ticket which will cost about $100.