Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PRTC to Install Video Surveillance on Transit Buses

Several bus fleets in Prince William County soon will be equipped with security cameras to cut down on passenger misconduct and promote public safety.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission is installing five cameras on each of the 25 busesin the Omnilink and Cross County Connector fleets, which serveManassas and Woodbridge, among other areas.

"We chose [to put cameras on] these buses in particular because we have a higher incidence of misconduct on local buses," said Christine Rodrigo, spokeswoman for the PRTC. She said commuters traveling to Washington were less likely to behave inappropriately.

Four cameras will be positioned inside each bus for various interior views, while one in the front of the bus will show the road. The wireless camera system will allow transit workers to monitor the vehicle remotely and in real time.

The advanced technology comes at no small cost: Each camera costs $1,380 -- and arming just one bus with fivecameras will run PRTC almost $7,000. The cameras were bought by a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation that was matched with local funding.
Not all counties in the Washington area have been as lucky in securing funding for the surveillance cameras.

In neighboring Fairfax County, plans to equip theConnector bus fleethave been put on the back burner due to budget shortfalls. Meanwhile, in Montgomery County, camera installation is proving to be a slow process, although the county plans to install cameras on every bus. Older buses in the Ride On fleet cannot support camera technology, so Montgomery is putting cameras on buses as they are replaced.

About 60 of the county's 375 buses don't have security cameras. Metrobus and Prince George's County buses all have at least one security camera on board. Prince William County plans to have its cameras installed on all of the Omnibus and County Connector buses by the end of the week.