PPS announces start of warning period of school bus safety program

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Public Schools are cracking down, taking the next step forward in protecting students who are getting on and off the school bus.

As of Wednesday, any driver who fails to stop for a school bus when its red lights are flashing and the stop-arm is extended will receive a warning letter in the mail about the violation with no monetary penalty — for now.

“We’ve consistently heard from our bus drivers that drivers are running stop arms, and federal laws and things made it easier to enforce it using the cameras,” said Michael McNamara, PPS chief operations officer.

Those stop-arm cameras utilize AI technology to capture video of the encounter and pictures of license plates. Pittsburgh Public School officials said a BusPatrol team compiles all of the evidence. It is then sent to school police officers, who will then mail the warning letters, which look like a citation.

But starting July 3, it will actually be a fine of up to $300.

“We’re just grateful that no students have been injured so far, and having an extra layer of protection for our kids is obviously our number one priority,” McNamara said.

Channel 11 spoke to grandmother Tammy Cinkan, who said she sees people pass school buses every day while dropping her grandson off at school. Cinkan is relieved that the program will soon be in full effect and that drivers will be held accountable.

“These people do not care. When the lights are on and flashing and everything, and the sign is out, you shouldn’t pass them, but they do,” Cinkan said.

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