The Williamsburg City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to allow cameras on school buses.
On Thursday, council members discussed a proposed ordinance that would allow school buses to have a video monitoring system in order to prevent people from passing a school bus while it’s stopped.
For Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools, this has been a subject heavily discussed in the past as it continues to be a problem. John Lambusta, director of transportation for WJCC, said last year there were more than 1,000 stop-arm violations and this year there have already been 400.
“We’ve gotten support from [the James City County Police Department] and [the Williamsburg Police Department] but they can’t be there all the time,” he said.
City Manager Andrew Trivette said the district came to the city last spring with the proposed ordinance as they considered different vendor options for implementing the system. However, the district could not move forward until the city passed the ordinance.
Once WJCC chooses a vendor, the cameras will be installed on school buses throughout the district — the cameras will take video and photo evidence of drivers passing stopped buses.
If a car is caught passing, the information will be sent to the appropriate police department who will either validate or decline it, Lambusta said. Then it will go back to the company where a citation will be crated and send it to the individual.
At this point, the individual can see their video and picture on the company’s website and can decide either to accept the citation and pay a $250 fine or fight the citation in General District Court.
During the meeting, Lambusta reiterated the law is being violated regularly, with 14 vehicles passing a school bus at one stop.
“I’m just stunned beyond belief that there could be that many people violating what is such a basic safety concern,” said Councilwoman Barbra Ramsey. “It’s hard to fathom, [it’s] incredibly disappointing.”
Ultimately, council passed the ordinance which would authorize the installation and operation of video-monitoring systems operating on city streets.