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SEPTA study using AI finds parking in bus lanes blocks safe access for disabled community

SEPTA study shows parking in bus lanes blocks safe access for the disabled community
SEPTA study shows parking in bus lanes blocks safe access for the disabled community 02:32

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A big SEPTA study shows there are thousands of violations caused by people illegally parking in bus lanes blocking safe access for people in wheelchairs.

"We have the same aspirations as everyone else. We want to go to work. We want to hang out with our friends. We want to do everything that everybody enjoys," Kwanesha Clarke said. 

Thirty-three-year-old Clarke, who lives in Philadelphia, was born with cerebral palsy which impacts her ability to move.

"I've been exclusively in my wheelchair for about 15 years," Clarke said. 

Clarke works with Liberty Resources, the nonprofit advocates for people with disabilities and on this International Wheelchair Day, they're focused on equal access to public transportation.

"There are a lot of things that we can do thanks to technology and things now, but it can be difficult when getting on SEPTA," she said. 

A SEPTA study last year using cameras on buses enhanced with artificial intelligence found thousands of dangerous violations prevent people with disabilities from safely getting on and off buses.

"It makes me angry," Clarke said.

The study, "The Cost of Blocking the Bus" was conducted over a 70-day period last spring examining seven bus routes.


It found 36,392 parking obstructions at bus stops with 50% of them being blocked and 10,000 riders were negatively impacted.

"When the bus lanes are blocked, it forces the bus to unload the ramp in the street which can be dangerous," Clarke said. 

The video shows the bus ramp for wheelchairs is normally lowered to the sidewalk. When the stop is blocked the bus has to move and lower the ramp to the street level at a very high angle.

"The ramp being as steep as it can be is a tipping hazard for someone in a wheelchair which can be dangerous and cause a fall risk," she said.

Advocates said enforcement of keeping the bus lanes clear is spotty. So, they're hoping people realize the hardships that can happen when they park illegally and stop it.

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