Marietta schools, city eyeing partnership on bus cameras
by Rachel Miller
June 06, 2013 12:35 AM | 2294 views | 8 8 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A small, white camera located under the stop arm of a Cobb school bus can record drivers who violate the law by passing while students board or exit. <br>Staff/file
A small, white camera located under the stop arm of a Cobb school bus can record drivers who violate the law by passing while students board or exit.
Staff/file
slideshow
MARIETTA — The city is considering mounting cameras to the sides of Marietta City School buses to capture drivers who illegally pass the buses, ignoring stop arms and flashing lights.

The automated systems will help to enforce existing laws designed to protect children while loading or unloading from school buses.

Pam Allen, court administrator, said the program will start on buses with the highest safety concerns.

“I believe the school will recommend 20 buses,” Allen said.

The city will have three days to review camera footage that indicates there was a violation, according to a presentation by staff at the City Council meeting May 29.

The vehicle owner will have the right to contest the charge or transfer liability if a different person was driving, Allen said.

Councilman Andy Morris said there have been concerns from residents about red-light camera footage. For instance: Who gets to be in charge of deciding whether a violation actually occurred in cases where the video footage is inconclusive?

Morris was the only opposing vote when the judicial/legislative committee decided to send the proposal on to the full council.

If approved, the program will begin by Aug. 1.

The school district and the city will partner to implement the program by using software provided by American Traffic Solution Inc.

ATS now operates the red-light cameras that catch drivers running stop lights in Marietta and will also install the school bus cameras for the new safety plan.

Allen said the fine amounts are set by state law.

A first infraction will result in a $300 fine, with $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third.

Mayor Steve Tumlin said he feels confident in the vendor and that officers will be well trained to review the violations.

“(The photos) are timed in such a way to make a clear and convincing case that someone passed while a school bus was stopped,” Tumlin said.

There will be no upfront fees or costs paid to the vendor, Allen said.

She added the cost to ATS will be based on the number of violations, with 75 percent of the collected payments given to ATS the first year, 60 percent the second year and 50 percent for years three to five.

That means for every 100 citations issued during the first year, ATS would receive $22,500.

After ATS’s revenue is subtracted, the city will keep 60 percent of the remaining money and give the rest to Marietta City Schools.

Tumlin said the city’s portion of the revenue is not earmarked for anything specific and will go to the general fund.

Number of violators

Allen said Marietta City Schools did a pilot program on two buses to get a handle on the amount of violations.

From Aug. 15 to Sept. 14, there were 3.02 violations each day per bus, with almost 60 percent of the infractions happening between 2 and 4 p.m., according to the CrossingGuard Pilot Summary Report.

A majority of council members said it is the hope that public knowledge of the cameras will decrease the number of violators.

After Cobb County started using hidden cameras on school buses, there was a cut from 1,800 violators per day in 2011 to 900 in 2012, according to a Feb. 22 MDJ report.

The article stated there were 400 illegal passers in a one-day test in January.

Mayor Steve Tumlin said Cobb County is very happy with its coordinated efforts between the school board and government.

Marietta school board Chairman Randy Weiner said he is still waiting for a proposal to be presented to the school board by the city.

Weiner said he supports efforts to increase student safety, especially to deter speeding past a stop arm.

“The idea is a good idea,” Weiner said.
Comments
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@HUH
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June 07, 2013
You don't have to be speeding by kids getting on or off the bus. I passed a bus while it was slowing down, it was not stopped yet, & as I passed the arm came down. Three weeks late I got a ticket in the mail for $300 big ones. It had a picture of my car side by side with the bus & another picture of my license plate past the bus. There is no picture of me begining to pass the bus while the arm was still up & the bus was still moving. There was no danger to anyone for passing that bus. Scam...
readmopaper
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June 07, 2013
I've seen two instances where a car passed a bus with the sign out. Both had circumstances that will not appear in pictures if those buses had cameras. It will be grossly unfair if those drivers get tickets. Bad law, bad public policy.
Readmopaper
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June 06, 2013
It's always about the money. If it were about safety, they would require the violators appear in court and explain why they passed a stopped school bus. This way, they get the money, the driver gets no points so decides to pay up and forget it, and no judge has to pretend it's all legal.
Just Wait
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June 06, 2013
They say it is for the safety of the children. It's really for the fine money, just like Cobb County.
Yeah Right
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June 06, 2013
This is all about making big money for ATS and the Government. ATS makes a lot of money from this as you can see from the article. Buses sometimes pull out their arms AFTER you started passing and then the camera will catch you in the middle of the bus making it look like you violated the law and the only video they show is the moment the arms goes out and your car is in the middle. There is no other video to show that you started passing after the arm was out and they don't care, they issue a violation at that point. Why? to make money. Because they know most people will just pay the ticket and not fight it.
HUH??
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June 06, 2013
WOW! How many tickets have you received from speeding past a school bus about to let off little kids??
Oh noes
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June 06, 2013
If it was really about safety of the kids and not just a money making scheme. Both CCSD and Marietta would have them on all the buses...!!!
That's right!
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June 07, 2013
I agree! Notice how the bulk of the money goes to the company running this, followed by 60% to City and then the School Board only gets what's left. If it's for the benefit of the kids, shouldn't the bulk of the money go to the schools?
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