Long Beach has started its school bus camera program. For now, the program is in its warning period, but violators will soon have to pay $250. NewsdayTV's Cecilia Dowd reports.  Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

Motorists who drive around a stopped school bus in the City of Long Beach will see fines of $250 or more beginning Aug. 6.

Long Beach officials on Monday said they have signed on to the school bus camera program, becoming the second municipality in Nassau County to issue tickets to drivers who unlawfully pass the flashing lights and stop arm of a bus.

During a warning period that began Monday, drivers who fail to stop will receive a letter in the mail about the violation with no monetary penalty, according to school officials and BusPatrol, the Virginia-based company running the program. 

After Aug. 6 a first violation will result in a $250 fine, a second violation that occurs within 18 months will cost $275, and a third within the same time frame will cost $300.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Motorists who drive around a stopped school bus in the City of Long Beach will see fines of $250 or more beginning Aug. 6.
  • A second violation within 18 months costs $275, and a third within 18 months costs $300.
  • The civil penalties — which do not put points on motorists' records — are paid through an online platform managed by BusPatrol.

Touted as a safety measure, the cameras are affixed to the sides of buses to catch drivers illegally going around the "stop arm" as children board and exit. The Town of Hempstead was the first in Nassau to implement the program in December.

"These types of programs save the lives of children," Long Beach Police Commissioner Ron Walsh said at a news conference. He cited data from a 2019 state study that said there are 2.3 illegal passes per bus each day.

BusPatrol also contracts directly with Suffolk County and has been operating since 2022 in 71 school districts there, including BOCES. The tickets generated $25 million in the program's first full year of operation in Suffolk, where 5,000 buses have cameras and more than 118,000 tickets were issued, according to a Newsday report.

The rollout in Nassau leaves implementation to the discretion of individual municipalities. Tickets are adjudicated through the county's traffic court, known as the Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. 

BusPatrol officials have said 90% of first-time violators don't reoffend. 

The number of tickets issued to date and the revenue generated through the Town of Hempstead program were not available Monday, a town spokesman said.

More than 12,000 tickets were issued in the program's first three months, with nearly 900 waiting for a court date, Newsday reported in February. 

About 250 tickets had been adjudicated since April, Nassau County spokesman Christopher Boyle said Monday. An update on the number waiting for court dates was not immediately available.

In the Town of Hempstead, revenues are split, with the town getting 55% and BusPatrol receiving 45%, officials have said.

As of Monday, only school districts within the Town of Hempstead and the City of Long Beach have the ability to opt in to the program. BusPatrol is in 28 of the 34 eligible school districts, BusPatrol spokesman Jason Elan said. 

Officials said 60 school buses servicing Long Beach public schools are equipped with cameras.

The towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead do not have contracts with BusPatrol. The City of Glen Cove does but is waiting for the school district's approval, Elan said.

The civil penalties, which do not put points on motorists' records, are paid through an online platform managed by BusPatrol.

Steve Randazzo, BusPatrol's executive vice president for government relations, said the company will run a public education and awareness campaign to remind motorists of school bus safety laws, including the installation of five road signs in high violation areas.

"It's not meant to be a 'gotcha,' " said Randazzo. 

But by next month, he said: "If you pass a school bus anywhere within the City of Long Beach, and you endanger a child's life, you're going to get a ticket for that," Randazzo said.

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