School Bus Cameras Already Paying Off

Hamden is one of a handful of school districts taking advantage of a new state law that allows cameras on buses that catch violators who illegally pass the buses.


The cameras the are in the process of being installed on the school district's school buses, and already have paid dividends, according to school officials.

The board approved an agreement with SmartBus, a Connecticut-based company that provides the technology for districts and administers the program that allows those receiving tickets to pay them online. The revenue from the ticket is shared with the company and the district.

And the revenue is considerable -- anyone illegally passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing can be issued a $450 ticket. Under the program, the town gets about $125 of that fine, Business Manager Mike Belden said, with the rest divided between the state and SmartBus.

Hamden is one of only a handful of school districts taking advantage of a recent change in state law that allows for the installation of the surveillance cameras on school buses for the purpose of catching cars that illegally pass buses stopped to pick up or drop off students.

When a school bus is stopped and has on its flashing red lights, all vehicles are required to stop while the child embarks or disembarks the bus, but violators have long been a problem, and one the cameras aim to catch.

There was no initial investment required of the district in the program. About 30 buses are expected to be outfitted with the equipment by September, Belden said, and some of the buses have already had the cameras installed.


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As soon as the first buses equipped with the cameras hit the road, the violations started pouring in, Chief Administrative Officer Curt Balzano Leng said. 

"According to [Police] Chief [Tom] Wydra, there were 10 violations right off the bat, and four of them involved children in the road," Leng reported.

The camera snaps a picture of the offending car and its license plate, and that information is forwarded to the police department, which makes the decision whether to issue the ticket to the vehicle's owner.

In formulating next year's budget, Mayor Scott Jackson estimated the program would realize $60,000 in revenue, but Belden said that from his discussions with the people at SmartBus, he feels that may be a very conservative estimate.

"It could be as high as $200,000," Belden said, "but $60,000 is a good conservative number -- I wouldn't put in $200,000."

George Levinson April 27, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I'm sure that people passing a school bus is a dangerous thing but I'm not sure how big a problem it is. In any event it is a good idea to discourage that behavior. A $450 fine surely discourages it already.. This program will likely be successful in further discouraging people from breaking the law. I really doubt that the increased fines paid will justify the cost. In fact, it is unlikely that much money will be raised at all. Hamden already spends about $7 Million for busses. Do we really want to spend more?
GerryGag April 27, 2012 at 02:40 PM
George, it is a problem (at least on a road as busy as Shepard Avenue). I pick up my two sons just about every other day at their bus stop. At least once a week, someone blows right by the stopped bus with it's blinking red lights. One of my son's buses actually has to do a turn around down the street to make the stop safer for the kids getting off the bus. So I welcome the cameras, especially if they are at low cost and bring in revenue. What I'm not thrilled about is the police department making the final determination if a ticket should be issued. There can be bias there. If a camera catches someone violating the law, why would there be any question or judgement as to whether the violator should receive a citation?
Thomas Alegi April 27, 2012 at 08:26 PM
My neighbor who is 87 years old read this article about school bus cameras. I can’t write what he told me about all those security video cameras that are being placed over the place. It would be censored by the HamdenPatch, but I can write few words he spoke “George Orwell-1984” The book 1984 is online for free at http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/0.html interesting reading.
LOIS JASON April 28, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Put a camera or station a Patrol Car at the bottom of Benham Street and Dixwell Ave. at the diner opposite Home Depot Plaza. Too many cars TURN right onto Dixwell at the sign that reads "NO RIGHT ON RED!"
Stephen August 28, 2013 at 04:35 PM
the "pay off" is more about money that the school district will try to churn tickets to make. Read here on ways the school bus scameras have been discovered to use to churn tickets. http://www.banthecams.org/articles/taking-on-the-government/4586-school-bus-scameras-why-taxation-by-citation-is-rotten-to-the-core "1. The latest is the median "violation" which was NOT a violation. http://www2.turnto10.com/news/i-team/2012/may/14/i-team-questionable-traffic-tickets-ar-1036475/ 2. A few months ago it was the bus on the side of the road with NO KIDS. http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2012/02/06/ri_drivers_say_school_bus_camera_system_is_flawed/(note this link does not work now) Quote: “Some Rhode Island drivers who received traffic tickets based on video taken by school bus cameras say they weren't doing anything wrong and the system is flawed. Marc Brassard tells WJAR-TV ( http://bit.ly/yQj4xW) that he received a $300 ticket from Providence police for illegally passing a school bus. But he says the stop arm of the bus was deployed when the driver was on break and there were no children aboard.” 3. In fact if you look at RI law the "definition" of a "violation" has changed.http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/24/2436.asp Quote: "When the machine detects a vehicle moving within 50 feet of the bus a second after the bus driver activates a red flashing light, then the vendor will mail a $300 ticket to that car's owner."" Also note that they bus scamera vendors need "violations" to be profitable: http://www.banthecams.org/articles/taking-on-the-government/2812-bus-scamera-vendors-wont-put-scameras-on-qunprofitableq-routes-need-qviolationsq. Quote; http://www2.turnto10.com/news/i-team/2012/feb/06/i-team-who-benefits-school-bus-cameras-ar-923653/ "The NBC 10 I-Team obtained the service contracts between SmartBus Live and the city of Providence and the town of Johnston. In both contracts, SmartBus Live requires regular business reviews with the towns to "consider opportunities for future improvement and revenue enhancement." And, under its contract with Johnston, SmartBus Live can review the "viability" of each bus route and it requires at least two tickets to be generated each day by buses equipped with its cameras or else the company will put the camera on another bus route." www.motorists.org www.banthecams.org camerafraud on Facebook


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