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Fewer Traffic Tickets? L.A.'s Red Light Enforcement Cameras Could Go Dark

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The company contracted by Los Angeles to install, maintain and monitor cameras that record drivers running red lights, eventually prompting a costly traffic ticket by mail, has filed for a court receivership, an alternative to bankruptcy. Now city officials are looking at what options they have when the contract expires with Nestor Traffic Systems, which could go out of business or be purchased by a another company.

Since April 2006 when the first red light cameras went live, 91,939 citations have been issued generating $5.8 million in net revenue in 2007 and 2008. If the city goes with a new contractor, red light cameras could disappear for at least a year and a half. From an agenda report (.pdf) for next week's Police Commission:

...the implementation of the new contractor’s construction and the installation of new City infrastructure would take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete at an estimated cost to the City of $2.9 million. In addition to the temporary loss of a very effective traffic safety program, the projected loss of revenue for that period would be $6.3 million.

All cameras in Fullerton run by Nestor have been turned off and will be removed, partially due to the receivership, according to the Orange County Register.
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However, a motion last month by former LAPD officer Councilman Dennis Zine indicates that cameras in Los Angeles will remain working at least through the contract's ending date. "In the event that Nestor becomes insolvent, the City must be prepared to move forward with the photo red light program nonetheless. Public safety demands that all contracts with Nestor continue to be honored by Nestor or any future parent company," he wrote. "The City also should have a contingency plan in place to select a replacement vendor as quickly as possible should it become necessary to do so."

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