Pittsburgh Public Schools redacts financial agreement with school bus camera company

PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates is continuing to follow the money made from BusPatrol tickets issued to people here in Pittsburgh for allegedly passing a stopped school bus.

The Pittsburgh Public School District, the school police – who approve the citations, and the bus camera company all get a cut of each $300 ticket. But just how much? It’s not clear. Pittsburgh Public Schools refused to give 11 Investigates a copy of its contract with BusPatrol.

>> District justice raises concerns about school bus camera citations, lawmaker calls for review

We had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get a copy of that contract, but it came back with pages redacted and all of the pertinent financial information blacked out.

11 Investigates was able to find a 2022 Pittsburgh Public School board meeting when the CEO of BusPatrol, Jean Soulier, gave his final pitch to get a bus camera contract with Western Pennsylvania’s largest school district.

“If you’re not using automated enforcement, you’re not addressing the problem and holding drivers accountable,” Jean Soulier told the school board. “We win 99% of cases that go to court.”

Jean Soulier gave the school board members a “conservative estimate” of what the district would make off the tickets.

“Pittsburgh Public will get roughly $500,000 a year for every 100 buses,” Soulier said.

But exactly what cut of the money PPS gets, isn’t known because of the blacked-out contract they gave us. Pittsburgh Public Schools blamed BusPatrol for the redacted information, writing:

“The record contains information that BusPatrol deems to be confidential, proprietary information and trade secrets.”

So, 11 Investigates got to work, doing the math ourselves, on the cases we could publicly see. If someone requests a hearing about their ticket, that becomes part of a public record on court dockets in Allegheny County.

We started tracking how many tickets have been issued starting the first day of school, August 28, and every month we’ve been tallying how many tickets have been issued by going through the court dockets. So far, in less than five months, we tallied 701 tickets that have been issued. The gross revenue for those tickets is $210,000.

Since the contract between BusPatrol and PPS is blacked out, it’s not clear how much PPS has to pay BusPatrol up front for the cost of the cameras and installation, before the school district starts making money off the tickets. If PPS makes a 40% cut of that, which the CEO of BusPatrol said in a public meeting with school board members, then PPS is making over $84,120 in less than five months.

Keep in mind, that the hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue made from tickets is just from the people who fought their tickets in court. It doesn’t take into account all of the people who paid their ticket upfront and didn’t request a school bus camera hearing.

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