San Marcos set to enforce school bus cameras

SAN MARCOS (KXAN) – The San Marcos City Council passed an ordinance and installed security cameras on school buses to catch drivers who illegally pass those buses. Now police are ready to enforce that ordinance.

Drivers will be penalized with the help of BusGuard, a company which uses cameras mounted on the sides of the bus to record video of drivers who pass a stopped bus while children are exiting.

The provides the footage to local law enforcement, who then issue the citations. The system also includes internal video capability and real time GPS.

The system comes at no cost to the school district. They share in the revenue of citations issued.

The system may be coming to more school districts, including Austin ISD.

“We’re working with probably 13 to 15 in central Texas between San Antonio and Austin and up the 35 corridor,” said Slater Swartwood, with BusGuard.

The city council approved the ordinance after a pilot program.

“We did a 15 week study on 15 buses here in San Marcos and there was over 1,900 violations,” said Swartwood.

“That’s an awful lot of people passing school buses. That’s an incredible amount,” said San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams. “That needs to stop.”

Although the city council approved the ordinance. It will still be a matter of weeks before the program fully rolls out. More than 80 buses will be fitted with cameras when the program gets fully underway.

“We’re going to work with the city on a PSA campaign,” said Swartwood.

Chief Williams says the company will review the video, pick out violations, and send them to the police department for review.

Once San Marcos police confirm those violations– the company sends out tickets.

The tickets come out $300 per violation.

Ticketed drivers can request a hearing and appeal to the municipal court.

The private company that provides and monitors the cameras gets 75 percent of each $300 fine and the city and school district split the remaining 25 percent.

According to BusGuard, it has helped issue more than 50,000 tickets in Dallas County in about 1.5 years. Of those, BusGuard reports, less than one percent have appealed to municipal court.

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