PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates continues to dig into complaints about an automatic ticketing system on school buses. Since our initial story aired, showing a man wrongfully cited $300 for not illegally passing a school bus, we’ve been flooded with calls and emails from folks in similar situations who feel the “BusPatrol” system used by Pittsburgh Public is a money grab.
Mekayla Frangos says the $300 ticket she got in the mail for allegedly passing a Pittsburgh Public School bus was outrageous, especially when she viewed the video.
“Don’t let them hustle you!” Frangos said.
She says she was on one side of a divided highway behind a school bus and two cars, and on the other side of the median was a stopped school bus with red lights flashing. Under PA state law, she didn’t have to stop; but, she was cited $300 and five points on the license! She fought it in court and lost.
“They said ‘We even ticketed the school bus,’” Frangos tells 11 Investigates. “The gotcha moment was when the police officer with the school system said that center divide needs to be a certain height.”
Frangos was told the median wasn’t high enough, but that’s not what state law says. PennDot’s law clearly states: “If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.”
If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Just on principle, I’d spend $2,000 to fight it before I will pay the school system,” Frangos added.
Jay Beeber wrote a report for the National Motorists Association. He says data nationwide shows automated cameras don’t make kids safer and a cut of the revenue goes to the local school district.
“For real people - this is a real problem,” Beeber said. “The school system gets to keep a vast majority of the ticketing money. That’s clearly a perverse incentive to put in these systems and ticket as many people as possible.”
Pittsburgh Public did not answer our questions about what percentage they get from BusPatrol and the agreement is confidential. BusPatrol says they stand by their safety technology and the vast majority of people who are ticketed never re-offend.
Mekayala says she feels for all of the folks who just paid the ticket.
“The audacity they have to just think people are going to pay it!” Frangos said. “We can all see through the hustle and the hustle is collecting as many $300 as possible from as many people, instead of protecting the kids.”
If you feel you were wrongfully cited, please reach out to 11 Investigates.
If you go to court and you’re found not guilty, BusPatrol will pay your $90 court fee. It’s a process they say is automatic, but our viewers say they haven’t been paid restitution.
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