3/4/2008Chicago to Become Ticket Camera Capital
A total of 290 red light cameras and 118 parking ticket cameras will make Chicago, Illinois the automated citation capital.
Chicago, Illinois unveiled a pair of deals it had reached to turn the city into the undisputed automated ticketing capital of the United States. The city had already operated one of the country's larger red light camera programs beginning in November 2003. To date, that program has generated $72 million worth of tickets which has helped to ease the city's substantial budget deficit. The new contract will station cameras at one out of every ten intersections, a goal Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) first set in 2006. The move is designed to generate more than $100 million in annual revenue.
Redflex, the Australian company that operates the program in return for a cut of the profits, said in an announcement to Australian Stock Exchange investors last week that the plan will create the "world's largest automated red light enforcement program."
"We feel that this contract both symbolizes and solidifies the ultimate validation of our number one leadership position in the photo enforcement market," said Karen Finley, chief of US operations for Redflex.
The company has been installing cameras at a furious pace. Last May, Chicago had just 39 automated ticketing machines. In less than a year, the total has grown to 69. Under the new contract, it will be close to 130 by the end of the year on the way to a grand total of 290 cameras. Redflex, which announced a 41 percent increase in net profits over last year, said the city could order even more cameras under the contract terms.
At the same time, Chicago is moving forward on a contract with Affiliated Computer Services to turn the city's 118 street sweeping vehicles into roving parking ticket cameras, similar to programs announced in San Francisco and Washington, DC. On most of Chicago's non-arterial streets, sweeping is implemented on a schedule designed to surprise motorists. Temporary parking restrictions are set on the day before sweeping begins with the only notice given being a piece of paper attached to a pole. If the paper is blown away by a gust of wind and a motorist unknowingly parks in the space, a passing sweeper will take a photograph so that,weeks later, the vehicle's owner will receive a $50 ticket in the mail. Meter maid enforcement of street sweeping restrictions currently generates $17 million worth of tickets annually.