Hempstead Town is the only bus-camera program in Nassau County that...

Hempstead Town is the only bus-camera program in Nassau County that has been operational for a full year. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The Town of Hempstead received $13 million in revenue last year from fines for drivers who illegally passed school buses equipped with cameras, during the program's first full year of operation.

Hempstead issued 140,456 tickets in 2023, with fines starting at $250, according to data obtained by Newsday through the New York State Freedom of Information Law. 

The revenue figures provide the first full-year accounting of the money raised through a program that supporters call an essential safety tool and detractors dismiss as a cash grab as more municipalities participate.

Hempstead is the only bus-camera program in Nassau County that has been operational for a full year. The City of Glen Cove launched its program at the end of 2023, while Oyster Bay Town still is observing a 30-day warning period and has not begun fining drivers.

Suffolk County generated more than $21 million in revenue from its bus-camera program in 2023, county officials said. In the program's first full year, 2022, Suffolk's program brought in nearly $25 million for the county.

Nassau County does not run a school bus camera program. 

County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who took office in 2022, left the decision about whether to introduce programs to leaders of the towns and cities. School districts opt into the program through an agreement with the municipalities. 

Hempstead Town contracts with BusPatrol, of Lorton, Virginia, to operate its program. The town launched its bus camera program in November 2022 with a 30-day warning period for motorists. The town issued more than 12,000 tickets in the first week of December.

Since the Hempstead program began, it has generated more than $17 million in revenue, town officials told Newsday in March.

Hempstead officials told Newsday that drivers challenge fewer than 1% of citations. The program, however, has its critics. 

Warren Manos, 63, of Floral Park, said he still is waiting for a traffic court date to challenge a ticket he got last October.

Manos said the bus driver let out the stop arm just as he was passing, and that the bus was not picking up or dropping off passengers.

“Nobody wants children to be hit by cars. But this system has flaws and taxpayers and motorists are paying for the flaws in the system and it needs to be perfected” before it's enforced, Manos said. 

BusPatrol spokesman Gary Lewi said the program aims to change driver behavior and “in the best of all possible worlds, summons revenue will drop precipitously as motorists become aware of this simple but crucial safety program.”

Lewi continued: “There are far too many motorists out there who are either distracted or indifferent to the idea that there are children getting on and off of stopped school buses.”

The BusPatrol program uses cameras affixed to stop arms on the sides of school buses to capture images of vehicles driving by and mails citations to vehicle owners. Owners can pay the fine or contest it at Nassau County's Traffic & Parking Violations Agency.

Penalties set by 2019 state law do not add points to a driver's license but carry fines of $250 for a first violation and $300 for a second during an 18-month period. 

Last month, a provision in the 2024-25 state budget amended the school bus camera law after a court sided with drivers who argued that photographic evidence didn’t prove the vehicle they passed was a school bus or that it was picking up or dropping off children.

The budget measure adds to the 2019 law a “presumption” that a stopped school bus is taking on or dropping off passengers or is behind a bus that is adding or discharging passengers.

Neither Town Supervisor Don Clavin, a Republican, nor Blakeman returned calls for comment.

The Town of Hempstead received $13 million in revenue last year from fines for drivers who illegally passed school buses equipped with cameras, during the program's first full year of operation.

Hempstead issued 140,456 tickets in 2023, with fines starting at $250, according to data obtained by Newsday through the New York State Freedom of Information Law. 

The revenue figures provide the first full-year accounting of the money raised through a program that supporters call an essential safety tool and detractors dismiss as a cash grab as more municipalities participate.

Hempstead is the only bus-camera program in Nassau County that has been operational for a full year. The City of Glen Cove launched its program at the end of 2023, while Oyster Bay Town still is observing a 30-day warning period and has not begun fining drivers.

Suffolk County generated more than $21 million in revenue from its bus-camera program in 2023, county officials said. In the program's first full year, 2022, Suffolk's program brought in nearly $25 million for the county.

Nassau County does not run a school bus camera program. 

County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who took office in 2022, left the decision about whether to introduce programs to leaders of the towns and cities. School districts opt into the program through an agreement with the municipalities. 

Hempstead Town contracts with BusPatrol, of Lorton, Virginia, to operate its program. The town launched its bus camera program in November 2022 with a 30-day warning period for motorists. The town issued more than 12,000 tickets in the first week of December.

Since the Hempstead program began, it has generated more than $17 million in revenue, town officials told Newsday in March.

Hempstead officials told Newsday that drivers challenge fewer than 1% of citations. The program, however, has its critics. 

Warren Manos, 63, of Floral Park, said he still is waiting for a traffic court date to challenge a ticket he got last October.

Manos said the bus driver let out the stop arm just as he was passing, and that the bus was not picking up or dropping off passengers.

“Nobody wants children to be hit by cars. But this system has flaws and taxpayers and motorists are paying for the flaws in the system and it needs to be perfected” before it's enforced, Manos said. 

BusPatrol spokesman Gary Lewi said the program aims to change driver behavior and “in the best of all possible worlds, summons revenue will drop precipitously as motorists become aware of this simple but crucial safety program.”

Lewi continued: “There are far too many motorists out there who are either distracted or indifferent to the idea that there are children getting on and off of stopped school buses.”

The BusPatrol program uses cameras affixed to stop arms on the sides of school buses to capture images of vehicles driving by and mails citations to vehicle owners. Owners can pay the fine or contest it at Nassau County's Traffic & Parking Violations Agency.

Penalties set by 2019 state law do not add points to a driver's license but carry fines of $250 for a first violation and $300 for a second during an 18-month period. 

Last month, a provision in the 2024-25 state budget amended the school bus camera law after a court sided with drivers who argued that photographic evidence didn’t prove the vehicle they passed was a school bus or that it was picking up or dropping off children.

The budget measure adds to the 2019 law a “presumption” that a stopped school bus is taking on or dropping off passengers or is behind a bus that is adding or discharging passengers.

Neither Town Supervisor Don Clavin, a Republican, nor Blakeman returned calls for comment.

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Trump closing statements tomorrow … Suozzi medal ceremony … Athlete's comeback Credit: Newsday

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