NY’s Transit Workers Union Local 100 (TWU Local) is fighting a possible MTA initiative to install video cameras on buses to record drivers behind the wheel. According to the NY Daily News, the MTA believes the video cameras will result in more safe and efficient actions by the drivers. The MTA has been investigating a system used by Nassau County buses called SmartDrive. The package features two cameras – one pointed at the road ahead and another pointed at the driver and riders. Willie Rivera, a bus division chairman with TWU Local 100 told the Daily News that, “We do not agree and will not agree on cameras pointed toward our operators.”
The cameras are constantly recording, but only save images in 20-second segments, such as before and after an extreme movement like slamming on the brakes. The sensors send bus performance data from the engine to an on-board computer. This data can then be used to better instruct drivers on safe and efficient driving. For example, fuel costs can be lowered if a driver coasts into bus stops rather than breaking hard at the last-minute.
Jason Palmer, SmartDrive president, told the Daily News that, “For the most part, the information is used as a training tool,” Palmer said. “It’s just like the coach of a football team sitting down with a player with game film to improve the player’s skills.” The MTA has stressed that they are not focused on watching drivers, but rather lowering costs and increasing safety.