30 tickets issued daily through RPS bus camera system

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 8News investigates to see how Richmond Public Schools bus camera system is keeping students safe.

RPS is the only district in Central Virginia that has installed a stop-arm camera system on their school buses. The second district in the state.

The camera system is designed to catch reckless drivers illegally passing school buses.

“We’re averaging 30 violations a day,” Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz says, “So that indicates to me that yes, it is working.”

100 school buses are equipped with a total of 13 cameras, nine on the outside and four on the inside.

From the first day of Fall to October 24, 1,021 citations were issued to drivers who illegally pass a school bus when the stop-arm is out or red lights are flashing.

8News obtained video through Richmond Public Schools in which cameras caught drivers nearly hitting students when the school bus was stopped.

Michelle Kitts is a RPS parent and admits she even goes a different route in the mornings to avoid the bus stops.

“If they have kids they know how it feels to see somebody speed passed the buses when there are kids,” Kitts says, “even at the stop with no buses around so everyone should slow down and take it easy.”

Kevin Hunter, another RPS parent says he wasn’t surprised by the number of tickets that were issued in the first seven weeks this Fall. He says he believes drivers need to put down their cell phones and pay more attention to the road before a child is hurt.

“As a foster dad I don’t want to see any of my kids go you know shot across the street then you got some driver coming and don’t pay attention,” Hunter said.

In a press release sent to 8News this summer, Richmond Public Schools said they wanted to have all school buses equipped with the camera system by the start of the semester. However, the company that installs the camera paid to install cameras on the first 50 buses and have been working in phases to install the rest. This revenue is generated from the citations that are issued.

“They get 60 cents of the dollar, of the revenue and that covers their cost and profit margins and then we get 40 cents on the dollar,” Kranz says. “This was strictly a safety issue this had nothing to do with making dollars. Our intent though is to take the dollars we do receive though and reinvest in our transportation department, because our transportation with the fleet that we have, we need to be making continuous reinvestment into their needs so that’s our intent is to just reinvest it and reduce the amount of capital for reinvestment from the City.”

There are currently 130 school buses without the camera system. Kranz says he hopes to have all school buses equipped by Christmas.
“I would like to see all of the school buses equipped,” Richmond resident Elizabeth Garrett says, “and it would be nice if Richmond could set an example so that other counties and cities would follow their lead.”