Thunder Bay

School bus stop-arm cameras a 'fantastic idea': Student Transportation Services Thunder Bay manager

The installation of stop-arm cameras on school buses is a "fantastic idea" that would increase safety for students, the manager of the city's student transportation consortium said.

City council expected to consider the cameras during August meeting

The manager of Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay says installing cameras on the exterior of school buses to capture images of vehicles passing them illegally would be a "fantastic idea." (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The installation of stop-arm cameras on school buses is a "fantastic idea" that would increase safety for students, the manager of the city's student transportation consortium said.

"There's definitely the support of not only student transportation services, but also all three local school boards, as well as our local school bus operators," said Craig Murphy, manager of Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay. "We've been kind of pushing for the city to take a look at it."

The province announced it was moving forward with new legislation that allowed the cameras in 2019. That legislation was officially passed last September, Murphy said.

Under the legislation, municipalities can install cameras on the exterior of school buses, which would be set up to capture images of any vehicles that pass the school bus while it's stopped, with the lights flashing and stop arm extended. A ticket would then be sent to the vehicle's registered owner.

Murphy said the issue is a prevalent one in the city.

"It happens quite often," he said. "It ranged from four times a day to eight times a day from the drivers that were reporting it."

"It's been an issue here as it is in many areas, whether it's drivers aren't aware of it or of the law, or are distracted or just don't care, who knows," Murphy said. "But it does happen. And unfortunately, it's putting the lives of children at stake every time this occurs."

Other municipalities in Canada are already using the cameras, Murphy said, and studies have shown they're effective.

"Statistically, they show at the beginning … that there is a high rate of people who pass school buses," he said. "But eventually it gets down to somewhere in the range of 30, 35 per cent of the original numbers that they were seeing before they implemented the cameras."

And, Murphy said, it's possible the cameras wouldn't cost the city anything. He said an agreement can be signed that would see the provider handle all the installation, image processing, and related work, and then be paid with a portion of money collected through fines issued.

"In the end, those who are violating the laws are the ones who are paying for that system," he said.

Thunder Bay City Council is expected to discuss stop-arm cameras at a meeting in August.

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