Saturday, October 11, 2008


You all know that I have been against the red light cameras for a number of reasons. Primarily because if any site in the city is generating that much money in red light running, the cameras should come out and the police officer should go in.

Anyway, here's a story from Philadelphia regarding their red light cameras.


Here's the story:

Refunds for Phila. motorists clocked improperly by red-light cameras
By Jeff Shields

Inquirer Staff Writer

The Philadelphia Parking Authority will give $100 refunds to 4,390 motorists ticketed this year, because its red-light cameras were a little too quick on the draw.
> Seven months after discovering that cameras along Roosevelt Boulevard and elsewhere were suffering from "premature activation" - but failing to determine the depth of the problem - the authority yesterday announced that it would wipe out the tickets at a cost to the agency of $440,000.

> "All I can do is offer my apologies to those who were affected, and assure them that the system is working properly," said Vincent Fenerty, the authority's executive director. He said he ordered the refunds because "I want the public treated fairly."

> The action came just days after Inquirer columnist Daniel Rubin wrote that the cameras along the Boulevard and elsewhere were calibrated incorrectly, and that a Central Pennsylvania man had challenged his ticket and won.

> Fenerty said that after he learned of the problem on Thursday, he ordered an investigation into how many motorists were affected by what he called "premature activation."

> The manager of the authority's red-light camera program, Christopher Vogler, discovered the discrepancy in March but was assured by the company that operates the cameras that it was an isolated problem, Fenerty said.

> "We did not know the magnitude of the problem, nor did the contractor report it," Fenerty said. "Should we have looked further? Most definitely. We didn't."

> When the authority began the red-light program in March 2005, it established a grace period of three-tenths of a second, meaning that only flagrant violators would receive the $100 citations.

> In February, when the city began upgrading the cameras from 35mm technology to digital, the problems began. According to the authority, the contractor, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), did not allow for the grace period, meaning that the cameras were snapping more quickly than expected.

> A spokesman for ATS yesterday confirmed that account. The error occurred because most ATS customers do not allow a grace period, and technicians sent to install the cameras did not include it in the programming, said Josh Weiss. He called it human error.

> New protocols will require workers to monitor violations for those falling within the grace period, he added.

> Weiss would not say why the company failed to investigate the extent of the problem detected by the authority in March. "We didn't know the extent of the number at that time," he said.

> The errant violations occurred between February, when the first cameras were converted to digital, and May, when the last camera was fixed, Fenerty said. The cameras with the most unwarranted violations were on the Boulevard at Mascher Street in Olney.

> Fenerty said that the drivers caught by the cameras were going through a red light, but that the cameras were triggered sooner than the widely advertised grace period.

> There were many other violations at those lights during the time period that were legitimate, Fenerty said.

> Fenerty said Vogler, who has worked for the authority since January 2006, "made a mistake." The incident, Fenerty said, would be "a very big learning experience" for Vogler, who he said has had a "stellar career."

> The city has 52 cameras at 10 intersections, including eight along the Boulevard, one at Broad Street and Oregon Avenue, and one at 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue.

> Letters of apologies with refunds are to be sent to those affected Fenerty said, and those who paid a $3 service fee for online payment will receive that back as well. The authority asked anyone with questions to call the red light program at 866-294-4500.


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