- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The addition of five new traffic cameras on city streets is not a response to a record-low number of speeders now being caught, D.C. officials said yesterday.

“I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face,” said Kevin P. Morison, spokesman for Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles H. Ramsey. “This is about safety, not revenue.”

The agency reports the number of motorists caught by the city’s 10 existing cameras steadily has declined since January 2004 and that just 3.1 percent of the 1.1 million vehicles rolling through the enforcement zones in March and April were over the speed limit.

Still, the agency collected more than $2 million in April and has brought in more than $8 million so far this year.

Despite the declining numbers, officials continue to say the expanding camera program was not created to make money.

“You get caught in a situation where you have to defend [the program] over and over,” Mr. Morison said. “Frankly, it gets a little tiring.”

However, transportation experts question the possible relationship between fewer violations and more cameras.

“The percentage of [violators] is down, yet the revenue stream is the same,” said John Townsend, spokesman for the AAA Mid-Atlantic motor club. “It only makes sense if you monitor more vehicles.”

The District mailed 43,163 notices of infractions in April, the fourth-highest monthly total in the program’s history.

District police began final testing on the five new stationary speed cameras and one new red-light camera.

Mr. Morison said the cameras will be activated later this year but gave no specific date.

The new stationary speed cameras are in addition to five stationary cameras and 10 photo radar vehicles now operating on city streets.

Police plan this year to add 10 red-light cameras to the existing 40 and increase the number of mobile cameras from 10 to 12.

The automated traffic-enforcement program is managed by Affiliated Computer Services of Dallas, which recently extended its contract with the city. The company splits the fines with the District, which deposits the revenue in the general fund.

The contract extension gives the company roughly $4.4 million to process tickets and $7.8 million to continue running the speed and red-light cameras.

The agreement, approved earlier this month, also keeps in place the existing compensation plan that has drawn criticism from AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The plan pays the company a fixed monthly amount of $651,735 and additional money if the number of citations issued exceeds 53,750 per month.

The company would receive an additional $23,000 each time the 53,750-ticket threshold is exceeded by 2,500 tickets. At 103,750 citations, the company would be paid $19,500 for each additional amount of 2,500 tickets. According to the contract, the additional cameras could result in more than 130,300 citations issued per month.

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