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."