Roughly 75 percent of Golden Gate's fleet is already outfitted with some type of security camera system. The grant funding, along with the purchase of new vehicles with new cameras, will see 175 of the agency's 180 buses with the technology by 2016, officials said.

Golden Gate spokeswoman Mary Currie said that means more safety for passengers.
"The cameras mean somebody is watching," she said. "It's a safer environment for our passengers. It's a deterrent to crime."

Stanton Klose of San Rafael, who serves on the Golden Gate Bus Passengers Advisory Committee, said he believes the cameras make sense.
"I do think the commuter service is pretty safe, but other routes could be an issue," he said. "They are good to have."

About 22,000 people ride Golden Gate Transit buses each weekday, primarily in Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma counties.

The new system will replace 10-year-old technology that is now on some of the buses.
"There have been some reliability issues," said Steve Miller, director of maintenance for the bus division. "The new equipment will also allow more advanced monitoring of the system."

Right now staff has to go to a bus and plug into the camera system to download the video. The new system will allow for remote downloads.

"It's a labor savings for us," Miller said.
The new technology also lets operators know electronically if part of the system is not working, an aspect dubbed "remote health monitoring."
Most of the buses have eight total cameras, most on the interior, which provide a record that can assist law enforcement, including searches for missing people, as well as help the transit system determine liability in accidents, among other things.
"It can be used for crime investigations; we have caught kids doing graffiti," Miller said. "The cameras really help us, and it's something government agencies want to see us have for safety reasons. For the amount of the investment the return is huge."

Editor's Note: Big Brother is watching. What is to become of all this data?  With facial recognition software, it is possible to track the movement of millions of people.  This surveillance has serious implications on your freedom. It is time to Save Marin Again.