City Loses Money Operating Red Light Cameras

A series of malfunctions afflicting Union City's red-light camera system is estimated to have cost the city more than $1 million. Police projected that the cameras, installed at five intersections in July to nab red-light runners, would net the city $1 million from traffic tickets this fiscal year, said Administrative Services Director Rich Digre. Instead, he reported to the City Council this week, Union City will lose $50,000. A timing error with the lights cost the city nearly $500,000 in expected revenue last summer, but that was not the system's only malfunction. Shortly after the city in September lengthened the duration of yellow lights to meet state standards, the system's computer motherboard failed at several intersections, allowing at least hundreds of red-light runners to go unpunished. It took the city's vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems, about a month to detect the malfunction and another two weeks to repair it. The cameras did not become fully functional until December. City officials estimated that the camera program would cost $476,000 to operate, while generating $1.5 million from traffic tickets this fiscal year, which ends June 30. But as of the end of March, the city had collected $344,000 from red-light violations.