WASHINGTON - Speed and red-light cameras have become a booming industry. After a record performance last year, D.C. is on pace to bring in even more cash this year.
Using a Freedom of Information Act request, AAA Mid-Atlantic found that the District took in a record $55.1 million from speed and red-light cameras during its 2011 fiscal year, despite issuing fewer citations than the year before.
In 2011, the city mailed 462,601 tickets. Of those, 397,464 were paid and 65,137 remain unpaid. In 2010, D.C. mailed 618,165 tickets. Of those, 547,131 were paid and 71,034 were not.
"No one does it better that the District of Columbia," says John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic's manager of public and government affairs.
He says revenues have climbed because fines have gone up by 150 percent over the last two to three years.
By comparison, Montgomery County, which is both larger and more populous than D.C., took in $19 million from camera enforcement within a similar time span, according to Townsend.
This year, the District is expected to set new records for revenue and number of tickets issued. From October 2011 to April 2012, the city has mailed 472,320 tickets.
So far, 353,342 have been paid.
"They've said that they want to generate $30 million more in the next budget cycle," Townsend says.
"Once you do that, you raise questions about the integrity of the program."
Additionally, 27 more speed cameras came online this week after a 30-day grace period. Locations of those cameras include well-traveled routes, such as the 14th Street Bridge, the Ninth Street Tunnel, and the Southwest Freeway.
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