Guest blogpost written by Connor Descheemaker, Coalition Manager of Transit Forward Philadelphia

Today, the Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed Bill No. 230489, Councilmember Mark Squilla’s legislation to enable camera-assisted enforcement of parking violations in SEPTA transit stops and lanes. 

Five people are seated in wooden hardback chairs in an ornate room with red patterned carpet. From left are a White man with short dirty blonde hair and a goatee and hoodie, a White person in a black mask in a brown suitjacket and tie, a lightskinned femme in a burgundy blouse with glasses and dark brown hair, a Black woman in a burgundy vest and jeans with white hair, and a Black woman with an Afro in a pony tail with a red-white-and-blue hoodie in a powerchair


Transit Forward Philadelphia joined environmental groups, disability and elder advocates, and transportation organizations to urge immediate action to increase safety and accessibility across our buses and trolleys. This major win is the culmination of a year-plus of collaboration and organizing, resulting in Philadelphia joining cities like New York and DC in enhancing efforts at behavioral change to make our buses and trolleys safer and more accessible, while improving speed and on-time performance.

In June, Transit Forward joined representatives from SEPTA, Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation Infrastructure & Sustainability, Philadelphia Parking Authority, and DC33, the union of PPA enforcement officers, traveled to DC where we saw how their speed and red-light enforcement works and what transit-mounted enforcement would look like. 

Color image of a group of smiling people of various races and genders in a street in front of a power pole

Around that same time, SEPTA was partnering with technology company Hayden AI on a pilot along select buses on routes 21 and 42. Over just 70 days, these cameras captured over 36,000 illegal parking violations in bus lanes and at bus stops – so many violations that project managers reported worry that the cameras were malfunctioning!

Clearly, illegal parking is an issue of epidemic proportions, slowing buses and trolleys further when Black residents (who disproportionately ride transit) already face commutes of 34 minutes longer than their White counterparts. 

This legislation will especially improve transportation for Philadelphians with disabilities, as illegal parking at bus stops makes it dangerous and often impossible for wheelchair users to board or exit SEPTA buses. When buses can’t reach the curb, wheelchair users must enter active traffic and board steeper ramps, increasing the hazard of tipping just to use transportation.

Councilmember Squilla’s bill enables camera-assisted enforcement from river to river between Bainbridge and Spring Garden, plus the entirety of Walnut, Chestnut, Market, and JFK in the city, and all streets that run trolleys. But as the City of Philadelphia’s own Disability Representation Map shows, people with disabilities aren’t limited by geography, and in fact represent larger shares of the population in areas not covered by the enabling legislation. 

Color image from the front of a bus of a city street with sections marked and a person standing in the street to attempt to board the bus. A car is parked in a section of the street marked with an "X"


We urge City Council to expand this legislation citywide in six months so that everybody in Philadelphia can benefit from the high quality transit service made possible by camera-assisted transit zone enforcement. Today was a huge step forward, and commend City Council for unanimously supporting proven solutions that help make safe, reliable, and accessible transit service possible. But we are not truly safer until these tools are available to all.

Transit Forward Philadelphia is committed to making buses and trolleys safer, more accessible, and more reliable. Let’s continue the fight.

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