Weather Forecast


KAT considers putting cameras on buses

WILLMAR -- Security cameras may be installed on some of the public buses in Kandiyohi Area Transit system.

The KAT operations board agreed Tuesday that it made sense to investigate the option of installing cameras and video recording equipment on buses. They referred the issue to the expansion committee.

Security cameras have become "standard in the busing industry," said John Groothuis, KAT director. Having equipment that can continually record activity on the bus would provide "a positive protection system for KAT," he said. It could provide valuable information in situations when there are "uncooperative" customers or when drivers aren't doing their job properly.

Groothuis said there have been circumstances in the past that he wished there had been cameras on the buses.

A camera has been installed on a trial basis for one month in KAT's newest 19-passenger bus. One camera is focused on the fare box and another is facing the passenger area. A split screen on a television monitor shows bus activity from both cameras.

The board members took of a tour of the new bus and saw how the camera system worked. The cost for this particular system is $3,280. The board directed Groothuis to obtain quotes from other security camera companies.

KAT currently has nine buses. The board discussed putting cameras on at least three buses, depending on the final cost.

"I think it's an excellent idea," said Darrell Ruch, a member of the board.

"It's a good concept," said Kevin Halliday, another board member.

Groothuis said the new bus, which cost $58,274, has some attractive features, including additions to its wheelchair lift that will improve safety. The Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Transit put $42,000 toward the cost of the bus.

In other action the board:

- Was informed that KAT will receive $30,000 in funding in 2006 from the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging for the county's volunteer driver program. Groothuis said he doesn't know how large a grant KAT will receive from MnDOT for 2006.

- Was informed that the 2005 fuel budget has already been spent, with three months yet to be paid. Increased ridership and strong revenues will help offset the $20,000 in extra fuel expenses, said Groothuis.

- Was informed that the 2 a.m. bus routes that bring people home from bars in Spicer continue to be popular. Last Saturday there were 13 riders. "It got 13 people off the road," said Ruch. "It's taking people off the streets when they're going to have drinks." The board discussed expanding the program to accommodate requests from groups of people who want to be transported to and from bars. At least one Willmar bar will be dropping out of the program.

- Discussed expanding routes in Willmar on Election Day because of changes in polling places. Willmar's 12 polling places will be reduced to four in 2006, which means some senior citizens who had been able to walk to voting booths in their apartment complexes will now have to be transported by vehicles.

- Discussed a proposal to put a bus shelter at the corner of Fourth Street Southwest and Litchfield Avenue.

n Presented a plaque to Wilkie Norsten, who is leaving the board after four years.

- Was informed that people are using KAT's new Web site:

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750