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4/28/2006
California: Union City Red Light Camera Faulty
Union City, California red light cameras malfunction for more than a month before anybody notices. City loses $1.1 million in revenue.

Union City
Red light cameras that caused Union City, California to refund $1 million in illegal tickets last year have once again caused revenue problems for the city. Administrative Services Director Rich Digre admitted in a city council meeting this week that the computer control unit for more than one of the city's five intersection cameras had malfunctioned without the city or camera vendor noticing. Redflex, the Australian company in charge of the program, took two weeks to repair the devices, bringing them back online in December.

As a result of the malfunctions, the city estimates it had lost another $1.3 million in expected revenue, $500,000 of which would have been directed to the city budget, and the rest split between the state and Redflex.

"When the number of violations started falling off, I wondered if we all of a sudden had a great adherence to the law," the Daily Review quotes Digre saying. "Then the company apologized and said the equipment is malfunctioning."

Redflex has agreed to give the city a 25 percent rebate for nine months to pay the city back for tickets that were not issued. This payback scheme violates a provision of California law that prohibits compensation to the vendor "based on the number of citations generated, or as a percentage of the revenue generated." Last September, a court trial found the yellow signal time at the intersection of Union City Boulevard and Lowry Road was 1.3 seconds shorter than the minimum required by California law.

Now the lengthened yellow light has cut into Union City's ticket revenue. In the current fiscal year through March, the city had only generated $344,000 in revenue -- far short of the $1.5 million estimate prior to the engineering improvements and the malfunctions. Still, Mayor Mark Green anticipated $600,000 in profit next year for the system, saying, "I certainly hope the prediction for next year is accurate."

Source: Faulty red-light cameras cost Union City $1 million (Daily Review (CA), 4/28/2006)

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