One month of testing generated $4.7 million in potential citations

Chicago is about to receive a new system of speed cameras, but after discovering the number of violations captured during a test-run, citizens are worried that the cameras are more for generating extra revenue than insuring the safety of Chicagoans. 

The office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently released the results of a testing period for the new speed cameras. Over a one-month testing period where cameras were set up in four different areas, 93,241 violations were recorded. If actual tickets were issued to the speeders, the city of Chicago would have collected $4.7 million -- in just one month.

City transportation officials originally figured that first-year revenue would come in at $40 million to $60 million per year, but some analysts are saying that the actual total will be far higher.

The cameras were set up by two different companies from December 3, 2012 to January 3, 2013. The first company, ATS, placed cameras in two areas in the city: Dulles Elementary School at 6311 S. Calumet Ave. and Warren Park at 6500 N. Western Ave. It clocked a total of 546,979 vehicles and found 51,701 violations.

The second company, Xerox State & Local Solutions, placed cameras in two different areas as well: McKinley Park, 2223 W. Pershing Road, and Near North Montessori School, 1446 W. Division St. It watched 503,366 passing vehicles and recorded 41,540 as violations. 

In the end, the city awarded ATS with $67 million, five-year contract to install and operate the cameras. 

Citizens are worried that the cameras, which were designed to keep drivers and pedestrians safe, are being installed just to generate additional revenue. 

"I guess this is just going to be a city for wealthy people, that's where we're headed," said Ald. Leslie Hairston.

The city plans to install about 50 cameras total, so based on the testing figures, that would be $1.2 million per month at each location multiplied by 12 months and 50 locations. Chicago could potentially make hundreds of millions of dollars annually. 

However, city transportation officials beg to differ. They argued that there are a number of reasons that the city won't reach such high annual figures, such as the fact that Chicagoans will learn where the cameras are through signs and warnings and begin to drive at appropriate speeds; some locations will have higher traffic volumes than others; the city usually only gets 70 percent of the money from tickets that are issued because some drivers refuse to pay, and about 10 percent of violations are not enforceable due to them being emergency vehicles, obscured license plates, etc.

ATS plans to install the first four camera systems next week at Garfield Park on the West Side, Gompers Park on the Northwest Side, Washington Park on the South Side and Marquette Park on the Southwest Side.

Source: The Chicago Tribune

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