Thursday, June 14, 2012

New School Bus Technology Uveiled in Wolcott, Cheshire Next

WTNH reports that Wolcott is adopting a new school bus technology that will catch drivers who illegally pass buses.

In May, the BOE Planning Committee discussed streamlining bus routes to reduce the number of stops along bus routes and adopt the same technology being used on Wolcotts' school buses. Some routes have elementary school buses (not kindergarten) pickup/drop off in front of individual homes, multiple times, along the same street! It is estimated that reducing the number of stops on our bus routes would save the school district about $50,000 annually in overtime costs. The study will continue over the summer. I will post details on the bus routes as they are made available.

Regarding the school bus technology, Cheshire is going to pilot it this coming school year. The camera will capture license plates of vehicles illegally passing school buses which is a growing problem in Cheshire. Those passing the bus may find a ticket in the mail.

According to WTNH: "Here's how that works: Violators will be slapped with a 450 dollar ticket. The town will get 85 percent of the money and SmartBus will also get a cut."
While bus drivers have been complaining about drivers illegally passing them along bus routes the Planning Committee was surprised to learn that the problem may be at its' worst in school parking lots. Buses are passed in front of school pick up areas illegally which is a concern considering that some school pickups areas don't allow vehicles other than school buses during drop-off/pick up hours. Parking in handicapped spots, parking in fire lanes and leaving the vehicle unattended were also raised.


Anonymous said...

I sometimes follow two near empty buses up Rt. 70 towards 68, which pass by students because they are waiting for the third bus. While the state requires seats for every child on the bus routes, this is a ridiculous requirement for the high schools. Data should be collected on average use, extra seats included to cover the occasional riders and a margin of error, and routes combined and consolidated. Three busses should not travel the same route 5 miles up Rt.70 to Rt. 10 and the HS. Tax dollars pay for largely empty busses to drive around town. I know much of this is out of the BOEs hands, but local and state representatives should work to get better policies put in place.

Tony Perugini said...

It's possible those buses are en route to pick up students along a different route. I can check. The challenge we have is that state law mandates that a seat must be provided for each student in the school district.

Waivers can be obtained from parents who don't wish to utilize the bus for their children. The challenge becomes getting enough parental participation to make this happen. Then there's the situation whereby a student needs to take a bus on a given day but there's no room. That can open up another can of worms.

As part of the bus route efficiency study I'll inquire about actual use i.e. average seats being used vs. not used and implementing a system that can collect that data for the coming school year.

The most complaints about empty buses, by far, has been around Cheshire High School. It may be easier to obtain bus waivers for CHS students who don't need the bus, assuming parents are willing. It's unclear how much this would save for CHS' case. But definitely worth looking into.