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Surveillance On Buses

ABC | March 21 2006

If you ride certain Madison Metro busses, surveillance cameras may be recording you in the near future.

City officials are about to vote on whether to okay the cameras on buses, which are used for routes, where there's been violence and other trouble.

The proposal calls for this security measure on just 15 of the system's 172 buses.

City officials say crime on buses has been largely concentrated on a small number of routes, some of which run through the South Transfer Point.

For months, veteran bus driver Sharon Williams and other drivers have said, more security is needed. " I don't feel safe. The passengers are starting to feel the pressure of not being safe," Williams told 27 News in May 2005, as she pushed for the placement of surveillance cameras on city buses.

"We're trying to run a business called the bus company," city alderman Ken Golden told 27 News. "And our customers are telling us they may not want to ride if we can't control behavior."

Golden is an unlikely champion of surveillance cameras on Metro buses. "If it was just cameras, i'd be voting against it."

But backers of cameras on buses say the surveillance is just one piece of a security strategy, which includes links to district police commanders; tracking of crime events on the buses through surveillance camera video; and positioning police patrol units for priority response to reported violence on buses.

Another alderperson, Robbie Webber told 27 News, on principle, she's uneasy with the cameras' invasion of privacy, but believes surveillance may be necessary to help insure driver and passenger safety.

City councilmembers vote March 21 on the surveillance camera plan.
If it's approved, the cameras should be operating in the buses, by the summer.

City officials say the bus surveillance camera system will cost $50,000, with about $40,000 covered by federal funds.

In the mid-nineties, some Metro buses were equipped with surveillance cameras, but aging equipment was not replaced.

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