LA cutting red light program, Phila. adding more

PHILADELPHIA - July 27, 2011

One lawmaker said there are currently 65,000 outstanding tickets issued by the red light camera system.

So what about Philadelphia?

Los Angeles is one of a number of municipalities shutting down their red light camera programs because of the cost to operate and administer the program.

But Philadelphia has no plans to shut down the cameras and may be planning to add more.

"There is a profit each year from the overall program, and the net profits go to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation," says Vince Fenerty.

Vince Fenerty of the Philadelphia Parking Authority says since they began installing the cameras on the Roosevelt Boulevard, they have generated millions of dollars in proceed that have gone to PennDOT. That is in direct contrast to the program in Los Angeles where the city is losing money.

There are presently 85 cameras at 19 intersections across the city.

And even though, both cities are using the same contractor to maintain the program, America Traffic Solutions, the difference is Philadelphia doesn't pay ATS per ticket written per camera, but pays a flat rate of $4,545 per camera, per month.

"After the cost of the program is paid for, we've turned approximately $20 million over to the Department of Transportation," says Fenerty.

And unlike the law in Los Angeles where it was voluntary for violators to pay tickets issued by red light cameras and could not be forced to do so, Traffic Court President Judge Thomasine Tynes says the law in Philadelphia is different.

"It's nothing voluntary at all, I mean, it's a fine of $100," said Judge Tynes. "The fine is that it doesn't come with any points or penalties."

Violators could be forced to pay a fine of up to $175 for failure to pay a red light camera ticket.

Los Angeles is not the only shutting down their red light camera program; a number of municipalities in Arizona are doing the same thing. Cameras also vanished from Arizona freeways.

But Fenerty says they don't judge their cameras by how much money they make, they judge them by how many lives are saved, injuries prevented and property damage prevented.

"There have been no fatalities on Route 1 or any adjacent highway or intersection on Route 1 where Red Light cameras are at intersections," said Fenerty.

But the former Mayor of Mullica Hill, a long time opponent of red cameras argues that they cause more accidents, because people are prone to stop on a dime for fear the light is going to turn red.

"So when the light is turning, are you jamming on your breaks, are you going to hit the person in front of you? Is the person behind you going to hit you? So I don't think the data behind it and objectively, I don't believe objectively it's going to be saving in that sense," said Mike Koestler.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority say about 120 people a week appeal tickets issued by red light cameras, but in the end, most end up paying the ticket.

Unlike the volunteer payment plan in Los Angeles, the payment rate in Philadelphia is over 80%.

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