Roundup: New Anti-Passing Technology, Bus Fleet Fraud and More


Since a number of drivers cannot take the hint that when a bus comes to a complete stop with its lights flashing and its stop arm extended that means stop forward progress and do no pass, a Michigan district has teamed up with the state police for a pilot program that essentially spells it out for drivers what they are required to do. The new technology, in big, electronic letters on the back of the bus, reminds drivers that stopping isn’t an option. In other words, in the latest attempt to make it clear, this technology installs brighter and clearer signs, lighting up unmistakably at the eye level of drivers behind it. “It will actually have a written message on the back. It will say caution, stopping, and when the vehicle is stopped, it will say stop in text versus the red and yellow lights,” said a representative of the technology. Two school buses in the Lansing district will be installed with these signs. In a matter of weeks, state police will know if they work. If the program proves successful, proposals for legislation are being written to require all new school buses to purchase the signs.

 A 72-year-old New York woman and her two sons have been charged with fraud after swindling a city and its school district of millions dollar running an employee stock ownership scam. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn indicted the triad, two of which were executives at USA United Holdings Inc., a conglomerate of bus companies that did $310 million in business from 2004 to 2011. They stand accused of bilking a total of $14 million in fraudulent loans. The two falsified loans were reported to create an employee stock ownership plan for non-union workers. However, the employees never knew the fund existed and never received money from it. Instead, a portion of the money was to pay for a $700,000 yacht. If you think the deceit ends there, you’d be profoundly wrong. In order to cover their tracks, the nefarious trio created a number of false employee leasing companies to fleece the millions in payroll taxes from the government. “Companies owned and operated by Laraine Castellano, Thomas Scialpi and Dennis Scialpi received more than $300 million from city contracts to transport children to New York City public schools. But that was not enough for these defendants. As alleged, they used their companies to defraud the federal government and financial institutions of tens of millions of dollars, all to enrich themselves,” said the acting U.S. attorney in a statement. 

 In what police are calling a deliberate attack, 15-year-old Pennsylvania boy was struck in the head by a pipe-like object thrown from the window of a passing vehicle while he waited for a school bus. The attack knocked the victim unconscious. He was later treated for serious injuries, including two broken vertebrae and a severe concussion. The investigation is ongoing.   

Contrary to what the headline indicates, the Greenwich school district already has a number of highly qualified experts on payroll. What school officials actually require is a consultant, or a gaggle of consultants, to assess the district’s bus system for logistics of different start times, traffic and congestion issues and the bidding of the district’s next bus contract. Ironically, any analysis would be completed well after the Superintendent of Schools is expected to make a recommendation for next year’s school timetables. However, officials are determined to conduct this study after a number of school board members and parents have expressed the desire to seek an expert’s help to fully comprehend the influence of altered timetables would have on bus service.