AISD upgrading buses with new GPS, stop-arm cameras

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District bus fleet is getting various safety upgrades. On Monday night, the AISD board voted to approve a new GPS system and stop-arm camera systems for its fleet of 500 buses.

While AISD buses have been equipped with GPS tracking devices since 2009, the board decided to spend money to upgrade the system so it is compatible with “4G” and “LTE” technologies. The upgrade will cost $194,000 for the first year and then $155,000 for each 12-month period thereafter.

Not only with the district be able to track the buses, but parents will be able to locate their child’s bus on their smartphone as well. Due to logistical issues, that option for parents won’t be available for at 2-3 months after the tracking systems are upgrade.

After testing various stop-arm camera services over the past year on 30 buses, the board decided to move forward with the company American Traffic Solutions, which currently provides services for Georgetown ISD. The video cameras systems on the outside of the buses record images of vehicles and drivers passing a school bus while the red lights are flashing and the stop-arm is deployed.

With the expansion, the district will be adding the cameras to 300 regular buses first.

The city of Austin of recently approved an ordinance creating a camera-enforced civil offense for illegally passing a school bus. When it comes to enforcing the citations, APD officers and Austin ISD police officers on patrol will continue to be processed through Austin Municipal Court without change to the existing process.

However, Austin ISD will set up a separate process for civil citations which may now be issued by Austin ISD Police officers resulting from recorded video evidence gained by a camera system mounted on a school bus. Video-based civil citations will only be issued by licensed police officers employed by Austin ISD. The district will be solely responsible for administering citations, collecting fines, and holding administrative hearings for appealed cases.

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