These School Bus Cameras Will Ticket You $450

If you don't like traffic cams, you will really hate these.

On the other hand, maybe this is surveillance innovation at work.

In Connecticut, a company named Bus Shield is enhancing the typical bus surveillance system with an uncommon service. They position cameras on the exterior aimed at passing cars, like so:

The goal is to punish / deter vehicles from going around a stopped school bus to prevent children from being hit / injured.

Here's how the fine works:

"The cameras use motion-sensor technology that alerts it to record video when a motorist drives past a stopped bus. The videos are monitored by Bus Shield employees, who, in turn, send the videos automatically to the police department. Police then investigate the matter and issue a $450 ticket if warranted."

And here's where the money goes:

"There is no cost to the town for the system, but rather involves a revenue-sharing agreement. Bus Shield will collect more than half of the ticket fine revenue, while the town will get 12 percent and the state will get the rest."

What do you think?

Good luck selling "This is here to protect you" to the taxpayers funding mass transit.

Are they scanning plates for unpaid parking tickets too?

"Are they scanning plates for unpaid parking tickets too?"

They are not doing this in real time, so even if they scan for unpaid parking tickets, they cannot impound the car.

This will create more issues in the courtroom and result in wasting their taxpayers money in many many different ways.

Might help to elaborate "School" busses. I thought you were talking about city busses initially.

Are you ok with this approach for school busses but not city ones?

The idea itself may seem sound, but will probably end up being more like the city stop light cams, with questionable calls and eventual revelations of kickbacks and payoffs.

Are you ok with this approach for school busses but not city ones?

I go around stopped city busses (when safe), don't you?

I also move passed it when its stopped.

With regards to turning, I believe in Chicago it is against the law to turn in front of a city bus while it is stopped.

this is a tendence were governments (local, state and federal) are legalising the things robbery barons did in the late middle ages = taking away your earned money.

the same tendence is be found in almost all European states.

While I am, and have always been, rabidly anti-speed/red light cameras - I don't have much of an issue with systems designed solely to assist in generating violations for people who do not stop for a stopped school bus. We have to protect the kiddies. :)

Do I speed? sure. Do I run red lights? I most definitely try not to, but I have been known to reflexively drop the hammer when I see a yellow and I 'feel' like I'm close enough to make it. Do I pass stopped school buses? Not even once. Have you?

I don't believe that 'safety' has anything to do with speed and/or red light cams, though I do buy into the safety premise of this type of surveillance camera use.

If their solution is motion-based (which they say it is) - and only triggered while the school bus is stopped (which they don't specifically say, but appears logical) - well then, what is the issue?

The massive fee?

The revenue-sharing?

I think the company that provides the system is taking a decent risk... they provide the entire system for nothing (pretty sure they said that) and take a percentage (more than half) of the take. So there is no 'taxpayer money' being spent (on equipment/software) - and initially the new system may generate some revenue... but

Only morons get $450 tickets twice for passing a stopped school bus... and while the world certainly has no shortage of morons, the club of obedience (the $450 fine) should virtually eliminate - or at least severely decrease - incoming revenue over time.

And they have to know this... I'd look out for clauses that require the school district to pay X amount if total revenue falls below a certain threshold. (because it will).

Note: I drive a lot and I have to stop for stopped school buses like everyone else. What's odd to me is that I hear that this is an issue - yet I've never seen anybody pass a stopped school bus. Not even once. :(

Not even once. :)

I've never seen anybody pass a stopped school bus.

I have - a number of times. Once, I wrote down the car's plate and gave it to the bus driver.

I do hope it only works when the bus is stopped and the red lights are flashing.

I agree with Marty... it makes sense to do what it takes to prevent injury to a bus load of kids. But I would also think that city buses should be included. Many people are standing and having idiots cut off in front of a bus, regardless of city or school, is a huge risk for injury.

As with Marty, I also do things like speed (don't think I've run red light though). I pay special attention to city buses mainly because it seems like they are a bit reckless and speed quite often. As for school buses, I have to say I haven't seen anyone blow past the stop sign when the bus is dropping off kids.

Overall, $450 is a wake up call to people and in the end, it may actually save injury and pain to those who have a tendency to bend the traffic rules a little too much.

But I would also think that city buses should be included. Many people are standing and having idiots cut off in front of a bus, regardless of city or school, is a huge risk for injury...

Agree with the sentiment, but keep in mind that in comparison to the modest analytic of determining whether or not a vehicle that is only several feet away is moving past the bus (while bus is stopped, with lights blinking), is far simpler than a determination of a (difficult to define exactly) reckless turning action initiated 25 feet away, and, IMHO, its a little ways off before we see the intelligence needed for writing auto-tickets like that...

Watch. Sooner or later, some municipality is going to leave a school bus parked on the side of the road somewhere with its lights flashing, all day long, forcing drivers to fill a hole in their budget. Or maybe just order the drivers to not turn on the flashing red lights until the child has left the bus instead of as soon as they stop, the way that red light cameras tempt legislators all over the country to shorten yellow light times in order to raise more red light camera revenue.

Adding a profit motive always incentivizes increasing this profit, sometimes in legitimate ways and sometimes in shady ways.

This use of technology is not new.

The vendor mentioned in this IPVM article also has external cams to catch the Lic plate of illegal passers (a Mobotix based external cam I as recall).

What is new is how the revenue is distributed. I dont think the 'installer' should get a cut of the fine.

Mike, there is no new fundamental technology in the case we are discussing.

What's different is the business process of taking those images and running a joint venture between a private company and the police to fine private individuals.

Lost in the discussion is the fact that in at least most jurisdictions, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing. Not so with city busses.

Lost in the discussion...

Carl, I think the point was clarified satisfactorily above, as recapped below, no?

Luis: Might help to elaborate "School" busses. I thought you were talking about city busses initially.

John: Are you ok with this approach for school busses but not city ones?

Me: I go around stopped city busses (when safe), don't you?

Margeret: I also move passed [city busses] when its stopped.

To be clear, my statement at least, was not intended to indicative of brazen lawlessness, but rather as a affirmation of an everyday ho-hum (and legal) affair.


Do you talk like you post? It must make for some, shall we say, interesting conversations.

Nevertheless, Margarita (not Margaret) stated

But I would also think that city buses should be included.

That would require:

  1. Laws be changed to include city buses.
  2. City buses have flashing lights installed.
  3. All drivers be re-educated.

That would definitely piss off a number of drivers, including me. The whole point with school buses is that children tend to be less aware of danger than adults and also that (hopefully) city bus riders don't cross in front of the bus, where they would be blind to motorists until they stepped out into traffic lanes.

Lol, that wouldn't be such a bad idea Carl!

Apologies Margarita for my error in typing your name, I have no excuse for it :(

No slight was intended, and I would quickly blame the spell checker if a) I ever used one, and b) I had actually spelled Margaret right...

[Note: Carl's question and my response are no doubt off topic and therefore I understand this may end up in the bit-bucket or maybe moved to the "Getting to know other members" catch-all thread. That's ok.]

Do you talk like you post? It must make for some, shall we say, interesting conversations.

No, I attempt to be more precise than when speaking, since there is no instantaneous feedback letting me know that my message is being understood correctly. So I often find myself accessing linguistic constructs that I would normally eschew during a conversation. For example, adding multiple subordinate claues in an effort to unambigously qualify and bound my statements and permit no misinterpretation.

The downside is that an idea which could normally be stated succinctly thru conversational speech, ends up reading like some new car advertisement fine print disclaimer, with all its exacting stipulations only diluting the erstwhile unadorned thought. Mainly due to these effects I am aware that many of my posts could reasonably be considered quite turgid, even unreadable at times. :(

All I can say to reduce the demands that my "high profile encoding" place upon your capable but not infinite decoding resources, is that you need not worry that I am just posting in such a manner because I like the sound of my own typing, and that I am not using words indiscriminately, just the opposite really.

Nevertheless, Margarita (not Margaret) stated...

Carl, please explain how Margarita's statement that 'city buses should be included' demonstrates your claim that the discussion has lost the 'fact' that city buses can be legally passed?

Doesn't it actually indicate the opposite, that she thought it was legal now? And had since moved on to saying that she feels it should be changed. So at least your lost 'fact' was not lost on her.

Carl, straight-up, did you really read those posts I mentioned? If you didn't it's ok to say so. If you did read them what could be the point of your post, except to chide us about that which you knew we were aware?

I don't have any problem with the business model per-se. The company is effectively acting as a contractor that provides a service to the municipality. The city/state is paying for the service out of the fine. The penalty in Connecticut is "not less than $100 and not more than $500" for a first offense. So while the fine is on the high side, it's not out of line with the vehicle code.

What seems out of line is how much the municipality is actually paying for this service. Paying $225 per incident is a lot of money considering that something similar can be done with existing mobile DVR systems. The bus driver only need provide a description (make, model, license) to the police for a summons. So the value add is not much.

"The bus driver only need provide a description (make, model, license) to the police for a summons. So the value add is not much."

However, in this scenario, its the contractor who provides the monitoring.

I am not sure how logistically feasible it is for the bus driver to take down such info while s/he is on their route. In addition, this service verifies it and packages video evidence for proof.

That said, I am not arguing it's worth $225 per incident but I question the ease by which the driver could do this.

I imagine an alternative is the driver jot down a time and brief description (i.e, "blue truck"), then use that to review video after their route to prepare a more detailed report for the police.

Basically, they're paying $225 per incident to write a report on behalf of the municipality. With some added value providing diligence--since like you say they're doing the monitoring.

My presumption is that they are getting the system for free too.

I am sure it's cheaper to do it themselves. I am just saying DIY adds time and complexity as well.

I'm in complete support of any video "service" based business model. :) A free system and then pay-per-incident is a great idea--if the numbers work out.

Presumably both the vendor and the municipality knows what to expect in terms of how many incidents may result in fines over the course of the the life of the system.

Ok, here's a scenario that has happened to me several times: a school bus stops and the driver waves me to pass before turning on the lights, typically before I have totally cleared the bus. Would I get a summons?

Unlikely, as long as the driver didn't deny giving the indication. Besides which, when you say 'before I have totally cleared the bus' one gets the impression that you have nearly cleared the bus and therefore is like the situation where a motorist is passing a bus as the driver turns the lights on. You should not lock-up the brakes to comply.

And then depending on your area, your bus driver may be explicitly empowered, crossing guard style, to allow it. From the wiki:

Generally, if a stopped school bus is displaying a flashing, alternating red lamp, a driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking the stopped bus from either direction (front or back) must stop and wait until the bus moves again or the red light is off.[1] Police officers, school crossing guards, and even school bus drivers themselves may have the power to wave traffic on, even when a red light is flashing.

And These School Bus Cameras Could Cost You $1000

But maybe that's just because its from the undisputed King of automatic billing, ATS.

A fluffy general report on school bus cameras being used to capture evidence of drivers ignoring the school bus red lights.

Being a silly European, I never quite understood why you wouldn't be able to pass a schoolbus. What is the specific reason this law is introduced ?

Children are small and often not careful, will walk in front of the schoolbus to cross to the other side of the street. Driver will not see the child coming, accident ensues.

I see. We don't have schoolbusses. So if children do take the bus it's just the standard bus. Where they are treated as all other pedestrians and are required to check the street before crossing. I'm a bit in conflict in which of the ways is better.

Some states (Wyoming was the first) mandate that every public school bus have cameras attached to catch drivers who illegally pass.

One of my collegues installs these systems for school bus company's and one of the bus company's they did last year in a big city said that they were recording 2 people passing stopped buss a week.

this doesn't have the ability to always directly punish/ticket the operator of the motor vehicle, only the person or business that it is registered to... reminds me of the time my brother used my vehicle on the express toll (lpr cameras in use) around 30 days later I received a statement in the mail...