Albany red light camera program set to start soon

albany red light camera intersections final

The previously announced intersections that are set to get cameras.

The city of Albany's red light camera system will start operating within the next two months, the Albany Police Department said Friday as part of an announcement about the selection of vendor for the system.

The city has picked GATSO USA to provide the equipment for the 20 intersections that will get cameras as part of the new system.

A couple of key details from the announcement:

How the company is being paid
The city will be paying a flat fee to GATSO for each camera, and if ticket revenues don't rise to the level of the fee, the city won't be responsible for making up the difference. Anything over the flat fee, the city keeps.

This sort of arrangement is in contrast to the company getting a cut of each ticket, which critics of red light cameras have argued creates stronger incentives for dispensing more tickets. It also addresses concerns that the city could end up paying out money if the number of violations isn't enough to cover the cost of the system.

Acting police chief Brendan Cox told the Times Union that the city's systems will probably include about 64 cameras, at $3,925 per month in rent for each camera. That's a little more than $3 million per year. [TU]

Warning tickets
The APD says "warning tickets" will be issued during the first 10 days the system is operational.

Ticket details

The city's announcement reiterated details about the system that were already established, including:

+ Tickets will be $50 each and won't involve points. (They're more like a parking ticket than a speeding ticket.)

+ Intersections with cameras will have 4-second yellow lights.

+ Violations will be reviewed by an Albany police officer and the officer will have discretion about whether to issue a violation.

+ Tickets can be contested in Albany City Court.

About the company

GATSO red light camera
A photo from the company's brochure.

GATSO USA is the American arm of a Dutch company that's been making traffic monitoring equipment since the 1960s. (The company's speed cameras are apparently in wide enough use in Europe that they have their own Urban Dictionary entry.)

Here's a brochure about the company's red light cameras -- it says they can be installed or relocated in about 90 minutes.

The company has installed cameras in countries around the world, according to the city of Albany announcement. One of those cities: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where its speed cameras are the subject of a class action lawsuit challenging their use and a state-level lobbying effort. Other cities using GATSO red light cameras include Winter Park, Florida and a suburb of Philadelphia. [KCRG] [The Gazette, Cedar Rapids] [Winter Park/Maitland Observer] [WFTV] []

A statement from acting Albany police chief Brendan Cox, from the announcement: "This is about safety. Running red lights is not legal or acceptable. We are convinced that GATSO is best equipped to bring this technology here. They have extensive experience, cameras that are easy to install, and a record of responsiveness. We also got the sense that this company is in the business because they care deeply about public safety."


Common Council member Judd Krasher has been the council's most vocal opponent of the red light camera system. And he was still skeptical after Friday's announcement. Said Krasher in an email to AOA: "Under this proposal, for the City to see any revenue, fines must exceed about three million dollars. This year, in order for the City to make two million dollars off of red light cameras, as outlined in the Mayor's budget, these cameras would need to generate 3.5 million dollars. I am very concerned that the system could become predatory and unfair."

Some rough math

Here's some back-of-the-envelope map about the cost of the cameras:

+ Monthly rent of $3,925 per camera = 79 violations per month to cover the cost

+ Total monthly camera cost for system with 64 cameras = $251,200 = 5,024 violations to cover the cost

+ Total annual cost for the system = $3,014,400 = 60,288 violations to cover the cost

Of course, without traffic volume numbers it's hard to those numbers of violations into perspective. We done some rough calculations on that in the past, but we want to put together something a bit more solid.

Camera map

Here's a clickable map of the previously announced intersections that are set to get the cameras:


+ On the road to Albany red light cameras

+ Albany Common Council passes red light camera ordinance: comments, votes, thoughts

+ Thinking about red light cameras


Red light cameras in the news this week:

How many Albany police officers would $3,014,400 pay for?

komradebob, is there a police shortage in Albany that I've missed on the news?

Didn't the city budget 2 Million in income from these cameras... for 2015?

That should be added into the math part of this post.

I'm concerned about people running red lights since it's such a persistent and aggravating problem in the city. But I've also seen cops be very passive about it, even when it happens right in front of them. Why are we giving them another reason to be passive? Why don't they ticket the people that break the law right in front of them?

Is there a reason from the cops side not to ticket these people?

Also, last question - is a 4 second yellow light more than normal, less or about average? I've never counted but it seems yellow lights vary in terms of length around the city.

Money-making scam on all sides, except for those who will have to pay another tax.

I wish people could be clear when talking about this. Joe A, what tax are we paying? According to the article, the city is not liable if the money collected from fines isn't enough to cover the cameras.

Pretty sure he means the fines, in the way conservative ideologues call any kind of fee, fine, service charge, etc a tax.

Being an Albany pedestrian I like any solution that will make non-car travel in the city safer. I'm not convinced here, but it's worth a test run. What's being left out of the conversation (unless I missed it) is the somewhat regressive nature of the fines.

What regressive nature? It's a fine assigned if you break the law... I haven't heard that assertion yet, but I'm curious.

"Conservative ideologue," lol, now that's funny! My friends are gonna have a blast with this one. How did you come up with the "REGRESSIVE nature of the fines"? And how do you propose to fix that? Fees, fines, service charges, etc, if not indirect taxes, do not have anything progressive or regressive about them, because they are not taxes, right? In this case, you supposedly pay for breaking the law. Should law breaking penalties be applied on a sliding scale? Too funny!

Incidentally, B, almost everyone in Albany is both a pedestrian and a driver. I don't know exactly what "drivers" you're talking about. Is there a special class of "drivers only" at whom this scam, sorry, fine, is aimed? Like other "fines," this will affect/afflict primarily people who already have a hard time making their rent/mortgage/insurance/etc payments. It will enrich the owners of the "rental" company. And, ultimately, it will be utterly unsuccessful at increasing pedestrian safety, as dozens of cases have already pointed out across the US and abroad. Those millions of dollars should be used in redesigning traffic patterns, sidewalks, streets, parking, crossways etc. The solution to everything always seems to be in good ol' puritan style: punish!!!!

Sheehan put $2 million dollars of red-light fines revenue in the 2015 budget. With the camera's not even operational till July, she is giving herself a very small window to make that money. With a monthly rental cost of $251,200*6 months= $1.5072 million plus her projected revenue of $ 2 million equals fines of $3,507,200. Taking that number divided by the $50 fine= 70,114 red light tickets issued & paid. I have a hard time seeing the City meeting that number of tickets issued in 6 months. Not to mention the fact that the City also has to get these fines paid, which is likely to not be 100%. Kathy Sheehan has no idea what she's doing.

I think what -B means regarding the regressive nature of the fines, is that once people get a ticket and learn where the cameras are, the number of tickets will go down.

This is good because it means increased safety, as people actually start of pay attention to red lights, but it's bad if the city needs a certain number of violations month after month, year after year.

What would be the cost of buying the cameras rather than renting them?

Jessica, after identifying my opinion with "conservative ideologue," I'm very certain that it is not what he means at all. The word "regressive" in fiscal policy has a very specific meaning, which is not at all what you are assuming. And I'm not sure that the number of tickets will go down. It will be a matter of "who's turn" it is to get a ticket, which is why it will also not address your safety concerns.

All the more reason to avoid Albany, Troy is where its at anyway..

Or, Fox, you could simply obey the law and stop at our red lights. But if having to do so means you'll all out avoid the city, better to have you somewhere else than running us down.

Sorry, Troy!

My wife is really swell. Helps so many people every day. An inspiration. I don't want her to die because someone didn't feel like following a traffic rule.

I understand red light cameras won't stop all red light running, but they'll stop some. Maybe one person incentivized to stop because of a camera would have otherwise taken my wife's life.

You can't record accidents that didn't happen, but this benefit should not be ignored. For that, I'll be happy to pay $50 when I mistakenly run a red light.

Are all red light camera haters lone wolves? No loved ones they hope to see at the end of a day? I doubt it. Please remember sharing roads with motor vehicles is insanely dangerous. Don't take safety for granted. Stop at lights already!

It's a success already. Think of it this way. If AoA published an article called "Drivers run red lights in Albany." You think anyone would comment? Would anyone get into the tizzy?

But now... your choose to run a red light, you might get a ticket. Running red lights is now on everyone's mind. People are thinking about driving safer. No one likes a ticket but I like YOU getting a ticket a helluva lot more than my family getting murdered by a careless driver as we cross the street with my three year old to get to Washington Park.

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