- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 9, 2007

Revenue from the District’s red-light camera program fell steadily during the same period that many of the automated enforcement devices were broken, according to statistics from the Metropolitan Police Department.

About half of the city’s 50 red-light cameras were reported out of service — some for as long as six months — before a new contractor began administering the program in March.

From December of last year through April, the amount of fines paid by red-light runners in the District has steadily dropped, statistics show.

During the final month of last year the program generated more than $451,000 in fines compared with just $190,788 in April — the lowest total paid by red-light runners since November 1999, three months after the program’s inception.

Officials also issued a record-low 735 red-light citations during the same month.

Police spokeswoman Traci Hughes said police were not able to determine whether there is a direct link between the broken cameras and the drop in fine revenue, but she said such decreases “could possibly be because of people changing their driving behavior” and not running red lights.

Edward A. Hamilton, who oversees part of the photo-enforcement and traffic-violation system for the police department, said 43 of the 50 cameras are again operational. Six cameras are not working and one is partially operational.

He said in some instances, workers must dig up streets to repair loops that motorists drive over to trigger the cameras, and officials are working with the Department of Transportation to acquire permits for the jobs.

The cameras are “either down because of the street loop or because the pole or associated flash mechanism needs replacement,” Mr. Hamilton said. “In order to do that, it requires construction permits.”

The city’s red-light camera program generated nearly $41 million in fines since its inception in 1999 through March of this year.

The District also collected more than $128 million in fines from its photo-radar cameras — 12 of which are affixed to vehicles and 10 of which are stationary — since they were introduced beginning in 2001 through January.

The broken red-light cameras were first reported in a memo sent in March to D.C. Council members from American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the company that took over maintenance of the city’s red-light cameras that same month.

The company said 23 of the cameras were not functioning. Two of the District’s fixed-location speed cameras also had not been certified in more than eight months, according to ATS.

Mr. Hamilton told The Washington Times in March that 14 of the 23 nonworking cameras were repaired within days.

It was initially unclear how the broken cameras would affect program revenue, in part because program statistics have not been posted on the department’s Web site for several months.

Kaylin Junge, manager of Internet communications for the police department, said the lapse is due in part to the split contract awarded for the cameras and difficulties in collecting and compiling the information.

Phoenix-based ATS is in charge of maintenance for the devices while Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services — which used to maintain the cameras — is responsible for ticket processing in partnership with the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

“It’s not that we’re intentionally withholding anything,” Ms. Junge said. “We’re just trying to recreate the process of data posting.”

Mr. Hamilton said there are no immediate plans to add more cameras, but officials have not ruled out the possibility.

“We’re considering and examining possible locations,” Mr. Hamilton said. “But that has not been finalized.”

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