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Surprise! You’re on ECO Transit camera

Vali Daily | May 17, 2005
By Tamara Miller

EAGLE COUNTY — Obnoxious bus riders beware: Someone may be watching.

By next month, two of ECO Transit’s approximately 30 buses will be equipped with modern surveillance cameras. And unlike the old cameras, which were used mainly as “dummy cameras” because they used too much VHS tape to be effective, these will be on and filming, said David Johnson, transit planner for the countywide bus system.

The Avon Center bus stop will be closed until May 31 to accommodate construction on Avon Road. All ECO buses will pick up and drop off passengers at the Elk Lot in Beaver Creek. For more information, contact ECO Dispatch at 328-3531.
“Under the old system, we couldn’t have a bona fide system to look at things happening on the buses,” Johnson said.

That’s because old system’s VHS tapes were difficult to store and required hours of viewing. The new system will record digitally — that makes it easier to keep a long-term record of what happens on the buses, and makes it simpler to find video footage if there has been a complaint, an accident or a report of bad bus riding behavior, Johnson said.

No single incident prompted ECO Transit to install the surveillance system, he added.

“The main reason we started using this system is for passenger and driver safety,” Johnson said. “We feel that if someone gets on the bus and they know that the cameras are operating that they’ll be less likely to cause a disturbance.”

Luna Sanchez hopes so. The Edwards resident said she doesn’t mind being watched while she’s on the bus because she isn’t the one misbehaving.

“Maybe it will keep drunk people from acting stupid,” she said.
Arguments between intoxicated passengers are the most common complaint ECO Transit gets, Johnson said.

“We just don’t want the altercation to expand to other passengers or affect the driver either,” he said.

If things do get out of hand, ECO Transit will have video footage to use in an investigation. That video could be used to prosecute anyone involved in a serious disturbance, he said.

The video also will be used to look into customer complaints and to investigate bus accidents. There will be cameras inside and on outside of the bus, he said.

It’s not ECO Transit’s intent to use the cameras to scrutinize employees, Johnson said. “As far as it being a big brother, that’s not the case,” he said. He added that ECO Transit has a “great safety
record.”

“And our perception of safety is great, too,” he said. “We always get incredibly high marks from passengers with safe driving.”

If all goes well with the first two buses, ECO Transit will begin installing surveillance systems in every bus.

Roberto Mendoza, a Leadville resident who rides the bus to work in Vail, isn’t concerned about the new system.

“As long as the bus comes, I don’t care,” he said.

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