Local News

Raleigh, Cary differ in red-light camera programs

Posted June 2, 2009

— Red light cameras have proven they can make area roads safer, but at what cost?

Both Raleigh and Cary have cameras at 15 intersections and issued a similar number of citations last fiscal year, but that is where the similarities end.

From July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008, Cary collected $390,086 from just over 18,000 citations resulting from its red-light program. After paying for operating expenses, the town made a profit of $86,135. That money went to the Wake County Public School System.

During that same time period, Raleigh generated $884,100 in revenue from about 19,000 citations from the cameras but lost $890.

Red light camera Red-light camera programs differ in Raleigh, Cary

So how does one program lose money while the other gives thousands to Wake County schools? The municipalities pay for the programs in different ways.

In Cary, if a motorist runs a red light and gets caught on one of the cameras, the subcontractor that runs the program gets a percentage of the fine. That's why the town generated less revenue than Raleigh. Based on the number of citations on each camera, the subcontractor collects anywhere from $25 to $49.50 per ticket.

In Raleigh, it does not matter how many tickets the red light cameras generate. The city pays its contractor a flat fee for the program.

Raleigh also incurs costs for a local customer service office staffed with five employees.

"Our goal, mainly, is to more or less break even, a revenue-neutral program, so there's no incentive to send out more tickets or less," said Raleigh transportation engineer John Sandor. "The goal is to have them at those intersections and reduce those collisions at those points."

Cary spends less on the program and makes more. It uses a contractor in Arizona and has one local part-time employee who costs the town a little more than $11,000 to employ.

"Any money we can give to the Wake County schools is a benefit to all of the students in Wake County," Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said.

Leaders in both communities say that despite the differences, their goal is the same – to decrease wrecks.

A look at red-light camera locations in Raleigh and Cary


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  • Bendal1 Jun 3, 2009


    I guess you didn't read the article with your claim that it is a "revenue generation program" in Raleigh. The program is designed to be revenue neutral, and so far it is. Your claim that it targets "poor and students and those going downtown" doesn't make sense, what with cameras on Capital Boulevard outside of I-440, on Six Forks road outside I-440, on New Hope Church Road and New Bern Avenue, all nowhere near downtown, students or "the poor".

    Why not admit that they ARE for safety and not revenue generation, and placed at intersections where there was a crash issue? It makes sense that intersections around NCSU would have crash problems; traffic, young drivers and being unfamiliar with the area equals crashes.

    You're just parroting the "red light cameras are evil" blather I hear all the time.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jun 3, 2009

    It looks like Raleigh is after the poor, those who go downtown, and college kids with the red light cameras.

    Several Cameras ring the poor Brentwood area. Other cameras are downtown and several are around NC State.

    This program is a revenue generation program. It isn't about safety.

  • oyid Jun 3, 2009

    ***Shaking head*** When will the madness stop. Who's siphoning the money? How do you make $-800 from $800K in revenue from traffic cams? What the heck!

  • hpr641 Jun 3, 2009

    "Raleigh also incurs costs for a local customer service office staffed with five employees."

    The red-light camera program really requires FIVE employees? Amanda Lamb, that should be your follow-up investigation - why Raleigh thinks FIVE are needed. Each employee only has to process 73 cititations each 40-hour workweek ... that's less than 1 every half-hour. Dare I even ask how these 5 got their job, or if they have any political clout?

  • noreplytome2 Jun 2, 2009

    Those leaders can SAY the sky is yellow, does that mean WRAL would report on chartreuse skies?

  • imtiredofit Jun 2, 2009

    The town of Cary sends $86,000 in revenue from tickets to the Wake County schools while the Raleigh program loses money on the deal even though Raleigh issued 1000 more tickets than Cary. I wonder if this great contract that Raleigh has entered into was arranged by the Raleigh City Manager?

  • foetine Jun 2, 2009

    Raleigh could make more cash by pulling people at the intersections around the red light cams