The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Red Light Cameras Are Big Business

By Prescott Carlson in News on Nov 4, 2008 7:55PM

redlightcamera.jpgIn these troubled economic times, at least there's still one industry making money hand over fist -- the ensnaring of red light runners. Arizona based company Redflex Traffic Systems just netted a $32 million contract for the maintenance of 136 of Chicago's red light video surveillance cameras over the next five years -- which works out to just over $47,000 per camera, per year. This is on top of a $52 million contract Redflex received earlier this year, which includes maintenance but only for cameras installed after October 22 -- hence, the additional contract. So how is it that Redflex was fortunate enough to snare $84 million in city business? Turns out they aren't nobody that nobody sent:

Redflex lobbyists include former Chicago Ald. Mark Fary (12th), husband of O'Hare expansion chief Rosemarie Andolino, and William Griffin, a friend of Mayor Daley and Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th).
Ah, good to know that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The city was able to throw down such large numbers because the program has collected over $94.5 million in revenue, with almost $50 million expected this year alone. But while that's a lot of cash now, city officials are also claiming that the cameras are increasingly "saving lives" and reducing red light violators. So if that's true, and it's not a revenue generating engine critics believe it to be, then theoretically the program should quickly be running at a deficit. Why do we have a feeling that's never going to happen? [S-T]

Photo by josephp