Councilwoman pushes for more bus driver accountability after ABC2 investigation

BALTIMORE - After an ABC2 News investigation uncovers hundreds of local school bus drivers getting busted on red light and speed cameras, a Baltimore City Councilwoman is taking action. 

The October investigation pointed out that some bus drivers don't have to tell the city if they get busted on camera speeding or running red lights.  They're contractors, so their contracts provide a different set of rules.  But Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke says she doesn't care, she wants them held accountable.  Reacting to the video in our story, Clarke told us, "This was a new one that shocked me frankly."

Clarke was startled by images of school bus drivers blowing through red lights and speeding.  During an interview in city council chambers last week, Clarke said, "I'm grateful because we just didn't know.  We didn't realize the extent to which this happens."

But an ABC2 News investigation made it clear, documenting the drivers breaking the law with video linked to the camera citations.  Baltimore City Public School officials knew about some of them, but our investigation pointed out the majority of the district's drivers are contractors. 

The contracts with the third-party companies they drive for don't have requirements dictating that they report red light and speed camera citations, a point that frustrated Clarke, "I was extremely upset about the frequency of speeding with children in a bus.  These are our babies."

Clarke believes the children who use the city's school buses need action now.  Although city school officials told ABC2 they'll be adding reporting requirements for contractors, Clarke doesn't want to wait. 

In Monday's City Council meeting Clarke introduced a bill requiring contractors to supply Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Baltimore City School Board and the City Council with quarterly reports of camera citations.  Her legislation requires that copies of tickets as well as information about action taken against drivers by the companies they work for be supplied.  Clarke explains, "We'll have a pretty thorough record of what's going on with yellow school buses in terms of speeding and traffic violations."

Clarke says she has support for the bill, which has been moved to the Education and Youth Committee.  It could take months to put the legislation through the pipeline.  But Clarke says, "That'll be our Valentine's card to the kids."

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