At TicketKick.com, we prepare defenses for thousands of recipients of red light camera tickets annually. We've reviewed dozens of contracts from ATS (American Traffic Solutions), and most contracts seem to be very similar in scope and content. The ironic part is that reactivating the cameras in Houston will not bring in money, it will just prevent the city from having to pay ATS millions in early-termination fees. The analogy is quite simple. Similar to a cell-phone contract, sometimes it makes more sense to pay a few bucks a month and keep the line for the duration of the contract rather than to pay the exorbitant early-cancellation fees. In our experience, the vast majority of the cities actually lose money on their red light camera initiatives, when all costs are factored in. In smaller cities with just one or two camera systems, this may mean a net loss of just a few thousand per month. But for a large city, such as Los Angeles, with 30 + camera systems, the loss could be in the millions. Coincidently, L.A. just removed their cameras on August 1st, after their contract with ATS expired. Most sources cite the $1.8 million dollar deficit caused by the operation of the system as the primary motivating factor in removing the program. Contrary to Houston's situation, L.A.'s contract with ATS had expired, thereby eliminating any fee to "get out." Most likely, Houston loses a bit of money on the program every year. And although it seems to strange to reactivate a losing venture, Mayor Parker sees that Houston's budgetary concerns are lessened by losing a bit of money every month, rather than forking over millions of dollars upfront. So despite the public outcry for what seems to be blatant ignorance of the voter's expressed decisions, it makes financial sense for the Mayor to push her luck and flip the switch back on.
Posted in Red Light
Aug 25th, 2011