Rockville red light cameras could double revenue this year -- Gazette.Net


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Starting this spring, drivers in Rockville likely will have to watch out for five new red light cameras.

Those cameras, in addition to the five the city currently operates, could bring in more than twice as much revenue this fiscal year as the red light camera program generated last year, according to a city financial report.

At the beginning of 2012, Rockville had 10 red light cameras at various intersections. In August, the city replaced those with five cameras operated by a new vendor and moved two of the cameras to new locations.

The new cameras can capture violations by people who do not stop completely before turning right on red. That, coupled with the location change, has led to a spike in tickets and revenue for the city.

Last fiscal year, 10 cameras issued about 6,800 red light camera tickets, bringing in slightly more than $830,000 for the city, according to police and Mayor and Council documents. In this fiscal year, July through December, more than 15,000 citations issued by five cameras have generated $803,000.

Some people are not happy about the new cameras and the number of citations issued.

“It all only takes a mere equipment change and vendor change, and voila, the city adds nearly 10,000 more red light runners than it had the previous year and a veritable bank of new ticket revenue for city coffers,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, in a statement.

The current fiscal year’s budget estimated that red light cameras would bring in only $637,500 for the entire year, but staff now estimate they will bring in about $1.9 million this fiscal year, according to a city financial report.

“We have seen a spike from these new cameras,” said Stacey Webster, Rockville budget and finance manager, at a Feb. 11 Mayor and Council meeting. She cautioned officials not to count on seeing the same levels of revenue next year, however, as drivers change their behavior at intersections with cameras.

Staff already have noticed a decrease in the number of citations issued per camera since the initial spike, according to Mayor and Council documents.

Rockville City Police Maj. Michael England said police hope to get the five new cameras installed sometime this spring.

“We’re still waiting on permits to be issued, and once the permits are issued, usually they’re up within 45 days,” he said.

The camera locations are selected based on accident history, pedestrian safety concerns and the number of violations occurring at the location, England said.

Thititan Durasavin, Rockville photo enforcement supervisor, said the new cameras will go up at West Jefferson Street and West Montgomery Avenue, Park Road at North Stonestreet Avenue, North Washington Street at Middle Lane, Gaither Road at Redland Boulevard, and Tower Oaks Boulevard at the Interstate 270 ramp.

Durasavin said that by law, a car must stop completely behind the white line at an intersection before turning right on a red light.

“Our requirement is all four wheels, including the bumper, have to be past the white line before we start citing,” he said.

Read more about Rockville’s red light camera program at rockvillemd.gov/police/redlight.html.

ewaibel@gazette.net