Streetcars may get cameras

September 16, 2011
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Car drivers illegally whizzing past can make stepping off the E Line train directly onto S. Huntington Avenue a treacherous experience, residents at Back of the Hill Apartments say.

At an Aug. 25 meeting at the 100 S. Huntington Ave. apartment building—a residence for low-income seniors and people with disabilities—City Councilor Mike Ross said he might have a solution.

He is looking into getting the trains outfitted with cameras, he said.

The cameras would record the license plates of cars that illegally pass trains while they are unloading, and the car drivers would receive tickets in the mail, he said.

“We are looking at the regulatory details and talking to the police, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) and the MBTA,” Ross said. He said state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez is also involved in those conversations.

Speraking to the Gazette last week, BTD head Tommy Timlin said the city has been pursuing Green Line train  cameras for years.

Timlin told the Gazette he met with the MBTA two years ago to discuss the plan, but that the state agency has not followed up by drafting language for state legislation that would be required to allow the new camera system.

“They have not given us the language as of yet,” Timlin said. He sais he has not discussed the idea with Ross.

Ross did not respond to Gazette requests for comment for this article.

Other concerns expressed by the about 20 apartment residents at the meeting included that some of them had fallen out of their wheelchairs when they hit potholes in the crosswalk across S. Huntington.

Julio Chow of the BTD said that the roadway had recently been patched in that area and that the signal at the crosswalk had been extended by four seconds.

Chow also said that the BTD has determined that the nearby intersection of S. Huntington and Heath Street should have a traffic light. James Gillooly of the BTD told the Gazette that more design and engineering work needs to happen before that project moves forward, and because of a backlog of traffic light installation projects, it will likely not happen for at least three years.

Pablo Calderon, an MBTA community relations official said at the meeting that he would look into concerns expressed at the meeting about trolley and Route 39 bus drivers driving unsafely along S. Huntington, and concerns that the buses’ chairlifts sometimes do not work.

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