Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Let's waste money! It's budget time!

In the name of Public Safety, we will violate your privacy and steal your money......
City to examine cameras, radar at intersections

JOE BELANGER, Free Press City Hall Reporter 2004-09-28 02:23:34

London will take a close look at the use of red-light cameras and photo radar at intersections. City council's environment and transportation committee voted last night to have staff prepare a study on the issue, including costs and benefits.

And how much does the study cost I wonder? It is doubtful the city would even recover the cost of the study, let alone the cost of the spy cams.

Police Chief Murray Faulkner urged the committee to give the cameras thorough consideration.

"I find whenever police seem to be looking for different technology . . . the reaction often is 'Why not just hire more police officers,' " Faulkner said.

"Well, the reality is I can't keep every police officer on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"This technology works 24/7."

And of course, the incidents of red light running in London have reached astronomical levels! Are you suggesting that the police will actually start going after real criminals rather than petty law breakers? Likely the police are in for a cut of the loot too.

Committee chairperson Coun. Roger Caranci reiterated his support for the cameras, even though fine revenue won't fully offset costs.

"This is not about cost recovery," Caranci said. "We don't put cost recovery (as a condition) when we install a barrier to stop cars going down an embankment. This is about safety."

Like so many other Guardians of public interest, Caranci doesn't care how much taxpayer money the city has to steal to pay for public surveillance.

Under the red-light camera system, cameras mounted on traffic signals take photos of vehicles at an intersection as the signals turn red. Photos are analysed by officers for violations and tickets are issued to vehicle owners.

To help ease the cost burden, the city is also examining the possibility of "piggybacking" with Toronto and other municipalities to buy equipment -- up to $200,000 for each unit -- and sharing administrative or operating costs.

Toronto is seeking partners to share the cost of analysing photos and issuing tickets. It has already set up a section to do that in its police operation.

Pledge your alligence to the Union! Plead your case in vain - we got you on camera!

London has 360 intersections with stop lights.

So, if all the traffic lights in the city were equipped with spy cams, that would translate to $200, 000 X 360 = $72, 000, 000 + administrative and operating costs. Sounds like a good deal!

Faulkner said intersections with a high number of accidents would be targeted.

These could include Wellington and Commissioners roads, where there were 103 crashes last year, or Highbury Avenue and Oxford Street where there were 117 last year, he said.

"That's just two intersections where I think there could be significant savings (in police time and injuries), so I hope the committee looks at this favorably," Faulkner said.

Coun. Susan Eagle asked staff to analyse the costs and revenues and estimate the effect of cameras on reducing accidents.

The report is not expected before next spring, staff said.

Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen was the lone committee member to oppose the proposal.

"I don't think we're in a financial position at this time to look at it," he said.

Last month, the province gave municipalities permission to install red-light cameras at intersections after a Toronto pilot program showed a reduction in injuries and deaths.

Queen's Park also has hinted photo radar may be allowed.

Municipalities can keep the $190 fine for red light violations, but city staff say such revenue would only partly offset costs.

The report to council noted the Toronto pilot at 48 intersections showed "angle"-type collisions declined, with a seven-per-cent drop in injuries and deaths. But rear-end collisions jumped, with an 18.5-per-cent increase in crashes causing property damage.

Now this is where the police cash in - more rear end crashes = more fines issued. Maybe the insurance companies are in on this too

City engineer Peter Steblin speculated the rise in rear-end collisions is a short-term problem because drivers will make more sudden stops.

Staff also reported the city is making progress on a $2.3-million program to improve the city's synchronized traffic lights. An estimated 150 intersections will be completed by year-end, the rest next year.

That's rich!!! The city has been talking about this for months - Read some mayorial propaganda from way back in April.

Frequent red lights caused by poor synchronization are often blamed for boosting driver frustration and violations of red light laws.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2004

Just ask London drivers what they think about the traffic and roads in London!

1 Comment:

Mike said...

$200, 000 X 360 = $72, 000, 000 + administrative and operating costs. Sounds like a good deal!Who manufactures/distributes these systems?