All Hudson school buses will soon have stop arm cameras
Board of Education approves contract renewal with transportation firm, which will install devices on 33 vehicles
HUDSON — All of the buses that are regularly used in the city school district are expected to have stop arm cameras on them sometime within the next three months, according to a district official.
The footage from the cameras can be used to help catch motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus while it is picking up or dropping off children.
The Hudson Board of Education on Dec. 7 approved renewing the district's transportation services agreement with Petermann Transportation for three more years; The current contract was set to expire June 30, 2021, but with the renewal, the pact will now run through June 30, 2024.
As part of the contract renewal, Petermann has committed to installing exterior cameras on its buses that are used in the school district, according to Steve Marlow, the district's director of business operations.
Petermann will order the cameras and, as soon as they are delivered, they will be installed on the 33 buses that the company operates in the district, said Marlow.
He added he anticipates the installation of the cameras will happen sometime within the next 90 days. Marlow said Petermann will bear the cost of buying and installing the cameras.
"Once the cameras are installed, there will be cameras on all of our regular route buses," stated Marlow, who added that stop arm cameras were installed last year on the 20 buses that are owned by the school district.
"I am thrilled to see the additional stop arms on the buses," said board member Tom Tobin. "I think that the risk of a child being hit getting on or off the bus is still one of the biggest, devastating risks that we could face as a school district. I think this helps us monitor that risk situation, reduce that risk."
Under the new deal, daily rates for district-owned buses will go from $283.53 to $297.71, and daily transportation rates for Petermann-owned buses will increase from $329.95 to $346.45, according to district spokesperson Sheryl Sheatzley.
"These rate increases are intended to allow driver wages to be competitive with surrounding districts ensuring the availability of drivers," stated Sheatzley, who added the district budgets $3.2 million annually for transportation expenses with Petermann.
One feature of the district's new contract with Petermann is an increased starting pay rate for bus drivers. Marlow said the district's bus drivers' pay rate is currently "the lowest in the area." He added he hoped the increase in compensation would help attract more drivers to the district.
"Bus drivers don't get the credit they deserve, in my opinion," said Marlow. "They're the first person that our children see when they come to school. When we have drivers with smiling faces and [who] treat our kids with respect and dignity, I think personally it just makes for a better day for our children."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.