In one month, new county school bus safety program generates over $92K with over 900 violations

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy said during the first month of the BusPatrol program, the county issued 923 tickets in the South Colonie Central School District. 

ALBANY — In an ideal world, the BusPatrol program wouldn’t be necessary, according to Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.
“But there’s some alarming facts,” he said.

Fifty-thousand drivers illegally pass school buses every day, he said. 

McCoy on Friday offered an update to the program, first rolled out in September, which equipped 59 South Colonie Central School District buses with cameras to record vehicles illegally passing stopped buses.

After a two-week grace period, the South Colonie program went live at the end of November.

In one month, between Nov. 28 and Dec. 28, Albany County issued 923 tickets in the South Colonie Central School District alone — a period with three school days missing due to Christmas break. 

The tickets generated $92,300 in revenue: 60 percent, or $55,380, went to BusPatrol and 40 percent, or $36,920, went to Albany County.

There were gasps in the room “when we got briefed on this,” McCoy said. “I felt sick to my stomach. Because it was a lot worse than I thought it was.”

 One child lost to reckless driving is one too many, McCoy said from behind a  podium inside the Cahill Room of the county’s office building at 112 State St., in Albany. “And our school bus cameras hold drivers accountable in order to prevent this tragedy down the road.”

By ticketing motorists who pass school buses with their stop arm extended and lights flashing, McCoy said, “We’re working to change the behavior of those dangerous drivers.”

McCoy showed a video where eight cars passed one bus and noted all eight cars were issued tickets — the fine for passing a bus is $250; additional violations within 18 months increase the fine $25 and with a maximum fine of $300.

McCoy said some of the county’s fine money will go toward educating the public about what they should do when a school bus is stopped, and used State Street as an example. Outside of the Joyce County Office Building, State Street is four lanes separated by a median with two lanes on each side. 

So, for example, if a bus is stopped and dropping students off in front of the county building, cars on the opposite side of the street in the farthest lane are required to stop as well. 

“So it doesn’t matter if you’re across the street or not,” McCoy said.

South Colonie Central School District has already implemented the program, McCoy said, with Bethlehem and Guilderland set to institute it. 

The hope is more school districts will sign on. 


The process

Adam Hornick, the former Bethlehem Police Commander who oversees the school bus safety program for the county, offered an overview of the process. 

He said BusPatrol prepares the video package and sends if off to the county

“Our team takes the opportunity to review that package in totality,” he said.

If the county determines that a violation has occurred, Hornick said, “We send that information back to BusPatrol, who generates the citation [and] information is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.”

Hornick said alleged violators have the opportunity to watch the exact same videos Albany County used to make the determination to issue the citation.

Hornick’s half-time job will have to go full-time because of all violation reviews. BusPatrol pays for his position.



At the November meeting of the Voorheesville Board of Education, the issue of camera ownership and its data came up. 

The conversation took place because there were questions about what would happen if, for example, there were an accident or the district had a disciplinary infraction on the outside of a Voorheesville school bus. 

“Per the law that was written, schools do not have access to those,” Superintendent Frank Macri said on Nov. 7 of the BusPatrol videos.

Macri said he tried to negotiate the ownership clause out of the contract, but it’s part of state law for counties. 

“So BusPatrol wrote the law,” Argi O’Leary, an attorney and Voorheesville school board member, quipped.

While prefacing that he didn’t want to speak for BusPatrol, McCoy told The Enterprise that he “would imagine [BusPatrol] would release it, why wouldn’t they, especially if there was a disciplinary issue.”

He then said he’d have to ask the company the question himself. 

McCoy said The Enterprise’s questions about ownership and access of data were the first time the issues had been brought up to him. 

In response to an emailed inquiry about sharing data with school districts, BusPatrol said in a statement, “BusPatrol complies with the requirements of the New York State Stop Arm Law and honors all requests for footage that are consistent with the law. We thank County Executive McCoy and the entire County Legislature for their steadfast support of this critical public safety program to keep our children safe.”

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