Local/State

Tickets begin for red light cameras at City Hall

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

For the last several weeks, the glittering lights of Broad Street in Center City have had some flashy company, literally, cameras capturing cars running red lights.

"6 weeks ago I stood at that intersection and I just watched it after dusk, and I thought I was at a disco it was flashing so quickly," said PPA Executive Director Vincent Fenerty.

For the last two months, offenders at these two intersections, South Penn Square at Broad Street, and JFK Blvd at Broad Street, have gotten only warnings. On Tuesday those warnings turn into tickets.

"We're issuing fines. Anyone caught passing a solid red signal will be a $100 ticket."

And the price goes up to $175 if not paid in 90 days.

The 6 cameras surrounding city hall are the last of 70 installed at 15 intersections city wide. And 15 more cameras are planned.

Though each camera costs just less than $5,000 a month to maintain and operate, the 4 year old program has already returned more than $9.8 million to state coffers. The Philadelphia Parking Authority, though, says it's not driven by dollars and cents rather by safety.

"The first red light cameras were installed were along Route 1, Roosevelt Boulevard. In some of those locations after those cameras were installed, we saw a 90-percent decrease in red light running."

Numbers they hope to duplicate here, one flash, one picture at a time.

"So just like the media says a picture is worth a thousand words, these types of tickets are worth a thousand words."

While the cameras are stationed at specific intersections citywide the Parking Authority says they have an effect well beyond them. They call it the halo effect, and say if a camera is installed here, studies show drivers behave as though they are also installed at intersections nearby, an unintended, but positive consequence of the red light cameras.

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philadelphia, pennsylvania, city hall, police, local/state, brian taff
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