Buses Equipped with Cameras
By Erica Plouffe Lazure
A pair of camera-equipped buses will be doing double-duty this semester as they travel along their route.
The roving surveillance cameras are part of a pilot project introduced by East Carolina University Student Transit Services to help create a safer and more protected campus, said Scott Alford, ECU student transit advisor.
,This was an idea brought up by students,Š he said. ,We are looking at this from the standpoint of student safety while they are on or boarding the bus. These five eyes might be able to catch something the driver might not be able to catch.Š
The two buses, each of which has five cameras, will be used seven nights a week, and on shifts that run as late as 3:30 a.m.
,We‰ll try to use them as much as we can,Š Alford said. ,And if anything does happen, we‰ll have a document.Š
The buses cost $261,000 each, and each surveillance unit cost $6,700.
The equipped buses will be used this semester to determine whether it would prove beneficial for students and their safety to expand the program, said ECU transit manager Wood Garrison.
,There have been a few altercations where it would have been nice to see exactly what happened,Š Garrison said. ,It is a pilot project. We thought we would run two to see how well they work and then go from there.Š
Ideally, Alford said, many of ECU‰s 27 buses could be retrofitted with the equipment, but money is one concern.
,If we find, with these cameras, that there has been a benefit, then we‰ll continue to look for money to expand the program,Š he said. ,When it comes to safety, money is not an issue, but we are using student fees and we want to be good stewards of their funds.Š
While passenger safety is of utmost concern, Alford noted that the cameras could also help bus drivers to concentrate more on the road and less on any situation that might arise inside the bus.
,It gives drivers a better sense of security, too,Š he said. ,Like someone else is watching what is happening on the bus. Even though there are other people on board, a passenger can feel good about riding the bus if they know everything is being monitored.Š
ECU‰s outermost bus routes run as far east as East 10th Street University Manor Apartments and as far south as the Wal-Mart plaza and the freshman parking lot off Dickenson Ave.