Less money from red-light fines coming to Philadelphia

Posted: April 07, 2013

Philadelphia's red-light cameras continue to provide millions for road projects around the state, but less of the money is coming back to the city.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced Friday that cameras at 21 intersections in Philadelphia generated $4.7 million last year after expenses, but only $1.5 million will be used for Philadelphia road projects.

The rest will be distributed around the state.

Until now, Philadelphia received half of the revenue from its red-light cameras. But the state legislature changed the law in 2012 to allow an eight-member panel to hand out the money to applicants from around the state, based not on a 50-50 split but on perceived benefits and effectiveness, costs, local and regional impacts, and cost sharing.

Since cameras were installed in 2005, motorists have paid more than $60 million in fines from them. Cameras are now at 24 intersections in the city, and the legislature last year authorized other municipalities to begin installing them.

The cameras are designed to decrease red-light running and improve safety at high-crash intersections.

They're in use in other states and have generated controversy, with critics arguing that they're more about generating revenue than about safety.

Most of the money from the $100 fines goes to pay the expenses of operating the cameras and collecting the money: $10 million was collected in the year ended March 2012, and $7 million went to pay expenses.

About $4.6 million was paid to American Traffic Solutions Inc., the Scottsdale, Ariz., company that installs and operates the cameras. An additional $600,000 was paid to debt-collection services to pursue unpaid fines.

PennDot said Friday that $4.7 million from last year's fines statewide would go to 43 municipalities, including Philadelphia and 16 local towns.

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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