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April 24, 2014  |   Comments (9)   |   Post a comment

Missouri district builds its own bus video systems

By Thomas McMahon


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Carl Junction R-1 School District recently began testing two additional cameras: one on the back of the bus and one underneath. Pictured is the view of the under-bus camera, which is sent to a monitor when the bus is in neutral.

Carl Junction R-1 School District recently began testing two additional cameras: one on the back of the bus and one underneath. Pictured is the view of the under-bus camera, which is sent to a monitor when the bus is in neutral.

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — The shop team at Carl Junction R-1 School District doesn't just conduct maintenance in-house; they also build their own bus surveillance systems in-house.

Woody Shoemaker, transportation assistant at Carl Junction, told SBF that the district has had its own video systems on its fleet for several years. The program was spearheaded by lead technician John Trease.

"The video systems are completely put together by our shop technicians," Shoemaker said. "These are four-camera systems: three cameras on the inside and one camera on the outside to catch the dreaded stop-arm violator."

Based on an idea by Transportation Director Mike Sharp, the Carl Junction team recently launched an exploratory program in which they added two more cameras on two buses.

One of the additional cameras is mounted on the back of the bus and activates a monitor, "much like the backup camera that you would find on a higher-end automobile," Shoemaker said.

The second camera is mounted underneath the bus on the frame, near the transmission. Like the camera on the back of the bus, it also faces rearward and activates the same monitor — but only when the bus is in neutral, such as at a bus stop.

"This view lets the driver see the area in front of the rear dual wheels," Shoemaker explained. "If something is in front of these wheels, the driver can see it."

Even though its position is so close to the road, the under-bus camera has held up well.

"We have run these two under-body camera systems for almost an entire school year with no problems," Shoemaker said. "It stays surprisingly clean, even after a hard winter with lots of snow and ice."

Carl Junction dubbed the under-bus camera the J.A.C.O.B. System, which stands for "Just Another Child On the Bus." The name is in honor of Jacob Wright, a 6-year-old Missouri student who died in 2004 when he fell under his bus and was run over.

Shoemaker noted that the additional cameras are not meant to replace the bus mirrors.

"It is another tool that we can use to keep our students safe," he said. "As the driver of one of the buses with this six-camera system, I can tell you that it is a wonderful tool for the bus driver.

The cost of the four-camera systems is about $500 per bus, not counting the Carl Junction team's own labor. The extra two cameras add about $100 per bus to that expense.


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Yes, John Trease did create the inside camera system from online components some years prior, and I give great credit to him for that development. We have continued to upgrade the DVR and cameras with newer components to achieve greater capture rate and video surveillance. However, the under bus camera system was a result of brainstorming from those mentioned which took place in the Fall of 2013. This is a great team and deserves the credit for its forward thinking and ability to work together to achieve the goal of safe transport for our children. I am truly grateful to the team members and feel pride in our accomplishment.

Mike Sharp    |    Jul 22, 2014 07:20 AM

Correction: John Trease started the camera system in 2007. http://www.joplinglobe.com/joplin_metro/x212096248/Carl-Junction-mechanic-developes-camera-system

Linda    |    Jul 20, 2014 08:56 PM

Mike Sharp has been with the district for 2 years and the camera system was put together by John Trease back in 2008 and this link was the first article on the camera system. http://www.fourstateshomepage.com/story/new-high-tech-bus-cameras/d/story/c-_M6E9C5Eem8-VsXvv_ug. John also builds computers and that is how he can build them for so cheap, he buys the part and builds it from scratch! Good job John Trease!!!

Linda    |    Jul 20, 2014 08:25 PM

My name is Mike Sharp and I am the Director of Transportation for the Carl Junction School District. This past Friday, May 16, 2014 one of our buses equipped with this system saved a life. Bus #22, driven by Woody Shoemaker stopped to release students at one of his stops. It was raining and thundering and a dog who belonged to one of the students at the stop took refuge under the bus without anyone noticing. As Woody began his procedure to pull away after de-boarding the students he took that one last look at the underbus camera and saw the dog sheltering beneath the bus in front of the left rear duals. Had he not had this system, the dog would have been killed beneath the bus in front of the child who owned it. We have ordered cameras and displays for all of our buses and will be installing them on the fleet this summer. Please contact me at [email protected] should you desire any information about our system. Thank you.

Mike Sharp    |    May 20, 2014 04:46 AM

I'm not sure what type of cameras they're using, but they might be able to save money by sourcing the same types of backup cameras used on UPS or FedEx trucks - another option for the backup that might be more economical for cash-strapped districts would be a mirror rigged up on the back to give a view of the back of the bus when using the west coast mirrors (FedEx and UPS used a similar setup before switching to cameras). You could probably use a standard crossover mirror head and possibly modify the mounting brackets to keep it simple and affordable

John Kronberg    |    Apr 25, 2014 10:17 PM

As a friend of the Wright family & a former school bus driver, I believe this is an awesome tribute to help save lives. And it is great that the cost is actually affordable. A life is worth much more than the price of these cameras, hopefully more schools will be able to follow suit.

Billie Clark    |    Apr 25, 2014 09:40 AM

Just wondering what camera system, with 6 camera heads, costs only $600?

Jay Davis    |    Apr 25, 2014 05:21 AM

Inspiring! Mike Sharp and his technicians are obviously in this business for the right reasons. Way to go!

Beth Cain    |    Apr 25, 2014 03:42 AM

The efforts are well worth the money and labor involved. The large RV campers and semi trucks have had back-up cameras for many years now. The fact that you can place your cameras where they can do the most good for the drivers is priceless. Good job Carl Johnson R-1 School District!

Dan Luttrell    |    Apr 25, 2014 03:29 AM

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