Are Red-Light, Bus-Lane, and Speed Cameras Becoming The Main Drivers of Revenue from Traffic Fines?

  • Preliminary data for fiscal year 2014 indicate the city received about $41 million in revenue from camera-generated red-light, bus-lane, and now speeding summonses, as well as $14 million in ticket revenue from traffic violations written up by police officers. The proportion of revenue generated by cameras rose from 38 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2014.
  • The budget for this fiscal year, 2015, assumes that revenues from these sources will total about $62 million. The jump (from about $2 million to $8 million) in anticipated revenue from camera-generated speeding summonses is attributable to Albany’s recent approval of an increase of 120 in the number of speed cameras to be installed in school zones across the city. Twenty speed cameras have been in use in the city since January 2014 as part of a pilot program approved last year by the state.
  • The jump from $24 million in 2007 to $45 milion in 2008 in revenue from red light camera summones followed a state-authorized increase in the number of cameras installed throughout the city. Revenue from red-light camera summonses also spiked in 2011 to $71 million as a result of a ruling that unpaid red light summonses (in addition to unpaid parking tickets) would count towards the $350 threshold for having your car towed for unpaid tickets. Many motorists were required to pay delinquent red light camera fines that year in order to reclaim their vehicles from the tow pound.

Prepared by Bernard O’Brien
New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCES: Mayors’s Office of Management and Budget; Financial Management System

Print version available here.

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