The Truth About Cars » Redflex The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Redflex Photo Ticketing Investors Content with Declining US Performance Fri, 18 Nov 2011 15:30:21 +0000

Investors in Redflex Traffic Systems were resigned toward the photo enforcement vendor’s declining US performance at Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting in Melbourne, Australia. The company has lost significant US market share and profit as more cities reject automated ticketing machines. Nonetheless, large executive compensation packages were approved without the dissent found in past meetings.

Shareholders signed off on a $324,926 salary for chief executive Graham Davie, plus $194,956 in stock for a total of $519,882 — a raise of 3.6 percent. Board member Karen Finley’s salary increased 3 percent to $318,270 plus $196,060 in stock for a total of $514,330. Finley is in charge of US operations which saw a drop in profit from the first and second half of the year of 7.4 percent.
Redflex has also lost its position as the dominant player in the automated ticketing market to American Traffic Solutions which has used funds invested by Goldman Sachs to buy out smaller competitors and take on their municipal contracts. ATS now boasts the greatest number of cameras deployed.

Those numbers are at risk to voter revolt, however. On November 8, two-thirds of voters in Monroe, Washington moved to send Redflex packing and 55 percent did so in South Euclid, Ohio. So far, twenty-one cities have held ballot initiatives to force the elimination of red light cameras and speed cameras. Other city councils have seen the results and canceled expected programs.

In her annual meeting presentation, Finley promised her company would “avoid ballot initiatives” by blocking voter access to the ballot and “create positive environment for renewals and expansion” by increasing the use of front groups to support automated ticketing machines.

The company is also looking to expand operations by turning school buses into photo ticketing vehicles and bringing more red light cameras to Alabama, Florida and Canada. It has also followed the lead of ATS and filed a lawsuit against its customer, Farragut, Tennessee, because a state law prohibiting photo tickets for right hand turns on red is costing the company significant revenue.

Redflex stock currently trades at $1.70 on the Australian Securities Exchange, down 34 percent since May.


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Redflex Reports Drop in US Traffic Camera Revenue Wed, 24 Aug 2011 14:30:46 +0000

Opponents of red light cameras and speed cameras have had an impact on the bottom line of one of the world’s largest photo enforcement providers. Redflex Traffic Systems reported a “slowdown in the level of new contracts signed” that dragged the firm’s US traffic camera revenue down $2.4 million in the 2011 financial year. Redflex lost $1.5 million worth of US contracts this year.

Redflex is not alone. Competitor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) saw major setbacks in two of the country’s largest cities. Los Angeles, California canceled its contract and Houston, Texas is poised to end ticketing after residents voted last November to prohibit red light cameras.

The company blamed a number of factors for lower than expected profits. The US dollar’s parity with the Australian dollar has meant that money paid by American motorists lost 12.5 percent of its value over the course of the year as the funds were transferred to Australian accounts. Redflex also wasted $2.5 million in a failed attempt to sell itself to Macquarie Bank.

“The general slowdown in the US economy post the global financial crisis continues to make for a challenging business environment in North America,” the company reported. “This financial year, Redflex has focused its efforts on strengthening its business model through tighter contract language, more aggressive collection efforts in key markets, strengthening its information technology infrastructure to become more efficient, and focusing on new products and services for growth outside of red light and speed enforcement programs…. A ballot initiative seeking to prohibit Redflex’s photo enforcement program in Port Lavaca, Texas was blocked through litigation.”

Despite the disappointing US results, the company told investors on the Australian Securities Exchange that, overall, net profit for the year was $10 million on $140 million in automated ticketing revenue, a sharp rise from 2010′s dismal showing of $442,000 in net profit before tax. The positive overall financial result came courtesy of the Middle East where government demands drove a 51 percent increase in international business revenue. The biggest windfall came from automated ticketing machines in Saudi Arabia and orders for new cameras in Abu Dhabi.

Redflex shares currently trade at $1.76, down substantially from the $2.75 offered under the Macquarie buyout deal earlier this year.


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Tennessee: Man Sues Traffic Camera Company Over Double Billing Tue, 19 Jul 2011 13:52:11 +0000

Drivers often get the run around when dealing with the traffic ticket bureaucracy. When fighting city hall, individuals usually have no little hope of prevailing. Motorist Harry A. Church realized that with red light cameras, the system was outsourced from city hall to a company that could be more easily sued. After being double-billed by the Australian red light camera company Redflex Traffic Systems, Church filed a lawsuit that has been taken up by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

On November 16, 2009, Church received a notice in the mail from Redflex claiming his car had run a red light in the town of Jonesborough. On the same day, Church mailed payment of the $88.75 fine. Redflex which cashed the check. On March 13, 2010, Redflex sent a second notice insisting that Church pay again or be reported to a collection agency. Church states he faced “coarse and abrupt opposition and accusation” when he called the company to resolve the situation. The next day, a Redflex employee told Church he was to be reported to a credit bureau for non-payment.

Church sent Redflex an invoice billing the company $120 for two hours of his time wasted on the company’s mistake. The firm ignored the notice. Church then secured the services of an attorney who filed the suit alleging double-billing is a common problem in Jonesborough because of the reckless conduct of Redflex. Church is asking for $3000 in compensatory relief plus punitive damages of $1 million.

In a brief filed July 7, Redflex asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The firm argued that Church failed to prove negligence on the part of the company because Redflex has no duty to get things right.

“Redflex is entitled to dismissal because no facts are alleged which establish a special relationship or otherwise demonstrate a duty of care as between Redflex and plaintiff,” Redflex attorney Michael S. Kelley wrote. “The sole contact between plaintiff and Redflex occurred when he contacted the company after receiving a dunning letter which was apparently an error. As a matter of law, this tenuous connection is insufficient to establish a duty of care on behalf of Redflex.”

Redflex also argued that there was no basis for the extravagant $1 million damage claim and that the company may not even be at fault.

“There is not and cannot be a good faith claim that the company engaged in some type of fraudulent conduct, attempting to get double payment for one violation,” Kelley wrote. “There are no facts alleged which establish that this ongoing problem was caused by Redflex, as opposed to the town or the bank where the town’s funds are held.”


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Garfield Heights Mayor Wants City To Become Red Light District, Again Tue, 19 Jul 2011 06:49:23 +0000

Last November, citizens of Garfield Heights, OH, banned the use of red light cameras in the city. The vote was close, 4,827 to throw the cameras out against  4,735 for keeping them. But presidencies were decided on a slimmer margin. The keeps the cams side had powerful support:  A PAC called “Safe Road Ohio” lobbied for the cameras, with the requisite pictures of little children.

According to the Plain Dealer, the primary donor of this PAC is “Redflex Traffic Systems — the company that operates the city’s camera program and pockets $35 from every speeding ticket issued.”  The Garfield Heights Council doesn’t seem to hold democracy in high esteem. Last week, the Council moved to bring the cameras back into the city.

According to The Neighborhood News, the city will ask voters to approve an amendment  that would allow cameras within 300 feet radius of school zones and city-owned parks and rec areas. This is the oldest trick in the book. I bet if you draw boundaries 300 feet from school zones, parks and rec areas, most places where cameras will bring in the desired revenue will fall within those lines. The city does not even hide that it is after money. “Safety and fiscal constraints” were cited as reasons to ask citizens to let the cameras back in.

One of the highest profile perpetrator of the school zone ploy was New York City’s then Mayor Giuliani, who drove strip clubs and porn shops out of most of the city by making the illegal “within 500 feet of churches, schools, day care centers and each other.” According to the Daily News, this “effectively banishes such businesses to the city’s industrial edges.” What’s good against red lights seems to work just as well for red lights.

Garfield Heights Mayor Vic Collova is listed as a co-chair of the pro-camera PAC. He had been warned not to “intermingle funds between his election campaign funds and the camera efforts.”




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Has Photo Enforcement Peaked? Wed, 02 Mar 2011 14:36:47 +0000

The largest operator of red light cameras and speed cameras in the United States experienced essentially no growth in the first half of the fiscal 2011. Melbourne-based Redflex Traffic Systems told Australian investors Friday that its revenue increased by a three-tenths of a percent over the same period last year — less than the rate of inflation. In 2009, Redflex sales were booming with the activation of 445 new systems. In 2011, Redflex only boasted eight new contracts.

“As a result of the macro economic challenges facing the US market throughout 2010, and the current politically challenging times, new contract executions have declined,” the Redflex filing explained. “The number of installed systems includes some cameras that may not be generating revenues for various reasons including: warning periods; delays in going live; legislative issues; road work; or maintenance actions.”

The majority of new contracts are in New Jersey townships — Cherry Hill, Hillside, Philipsburg, South Orange and Springfield — not in major cities. Redflex cited Democratic Party ties as the main reason these Garden State towns welcomed automated ticketing machines.

“The growth in the contract base and contract execution pipeline is primarily focused in high growth markets in a number of states across the politically moderate eastern seaboard,” the company explained. “While the overall acceptance of traffic safety enforcement programs continues to rise, a vocal minority persists in trying to appeal to various political leaders and attract media headlines with their efforts opposed to traffic safety enforcement.”

That vocal minority turned out to be an electoral majority in five cities last year, one that reached 70 percent of those casting a ballot in Mukilteo, Washington. To date, all fifteen cities that have put the question to residents have banned automated ticketing machines. To combat further referendum efforts, Redflex and its competitor American Traffic Solutions have hired consultants to form organizations that give the appearance of grassroots support for photo radar and intersection cameras. The consultants also generate positive online comments and letters to the editor on behalf of such programs.

“Redflex utilizes its corporate voice, the voice of customers and also of third party advocates to lead the discussion in all types of media — including earned, paid and social media,” the company filing explained. “Redflex projects its corporate voice through activity in social media through an aggressive online reputation management program… Redflex continues to support ‘grassroots’ efforts in several states, including Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, Arizona and Texas with other states like Louisiana and Washington to join in coming months.”

To reassure investors, Redflex reiterated that the company’s only priority is cash flow. If any of the firm’s safety programs fail to bring in money, they are dropped.

“In response to the company’s concentrated focus on profitability, contract renewals are strong, however we have elected to not renew some contracts where our performance criteria could not be met,” the Redflex filing explained.


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Redflex Approves Executive Raises, Expects Profit Mon, 22 Nov 2010 15:30:38 +0000

Redflex shareholders on Friday approved big pay hikes for the photo enforcement firm’s top management at the annual meeting in Victoria, Australia. Redflex has cornered 44 percent of the red light camera and speed camera market in the US, although Arizona-based rival American Traffic Solutions (ATS) is catching up to its down under competitor with a 41 percent market share.

Investors looked past the 92.6 percent drop in profit for the year — down to just US$437,300 — in signing off on the executive compensation packages with a show of hands. Karen Finley, the head of US operations, will be paid $498,108, a figure that includes 79,701 shares of stock incentives worth $189,108. CEO Graham Davie will be paid $496,637, including $186,262 in stock. Proxy votes showed very little opposition to these amounts, but there was some controversy over the plan to increase the maximum annual payment to company directors from $396,000 to $693,000. The directors had insisted that they were entitled to the boost because they have been working hard to sell Redflex to a firm like Siemens AG or Macquarie Bank. Although the salary increase passed, 47 percent of the proxies registered their objection. Shareholders are anxious to cash in from a potential sale.

“If and when firm offers are received, the board will assess the offers and determine whether to recommend an offer to shareholders,” board Chairman Max Findlay said in his opening remarks. “The board has not made any decision as to the ultimate outcome of the process at this stage and gives no assurance that a suitable offer will be forthcoming from the process.”

In the meantime, Findlay explained that his firm would remain committed to its number one priority.

“We have set strategic principles to guide the direction of the company, and the actions flowing from those strategic initiatives are starting to bear fruit,” Findlay said. “Key elements of the strategy are: maximizing revenue from existing, new and renewed contracts; identifying new sources of revenue from existing customers.”

The firm sees a potential for revived profits now that it has beaten back the lawsuit by ATS, which lost the case on all counts before a jury. Redflex also wrote off the millions lost on the failed Arizona freeway photo radar experiment.

“The contract encountered problems early with delays in access to required court data, resource constraints in the court system resulting in a large number of citations being rejected, intense media and interest group opposition, poor collection rates, with citizens actively encouraged not to pay fines, and many items of proposed legislation introduced that could have had a major negative impact on the program,” Findlay said. “As a consequence of many of these issues, the contract ran at a loss.”

Redflex also highlighted the growing unpopularity of automated ticketing machines — as highlighted in the massive loss at the ballot box on November 2 — as a development that allows Redflex to maintain its competitive advantage. ATS lost one of its largest accounts when Houston, Texas voters ousted red light cameras.

“Most of the cities that do not renew at end of contract have made a decision not to continue photo enforcement activity, and do not move their business to a competitor,” Davie said. “We have also seen a small number of contracts terminated for various reasons before end of contract.”


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Date Set in Minneapolis Lawsuit Against Redflex Mon, 01 Nov 2010 13:44:22 +0000

A federal magistrate on October 20 set the schedule for a five-day jury trial to decide whether red light camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems owes the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota $3 million. US Magistrate Judge Susan Richard Nelson set a February 1, 2012 date for the showdown with motions and pleadings to be served by February 1, 2011.

The city is furious that it had to refund $2.6 million in red light camera tickets after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the program was illegal (view decision). The city wants to extract that money back from the Australian ticketing firm, but Redflex is fighting the suit.

“Redflex admits that the contract required it to pay for the cost of installing its equipment in the city, but denies that it had payment obligations beyond those set forth in the contract,” Redflex attorney David L. Shulman wrote in a brief to the court. “The damages of the city were caused in whole or in part by its own negligent and unlawful conduct. Redflex has paid all sums due on the Minneapolis project and cannot be required to pay twice.”

After the cameras were installed, Redflex got caught in a billing dispute between the contractor responsible for the installation work, Network Electric, and its subcontractor, Collins Electrical Systems. Collins was supposed to be paid by Network Electric, but it did not receive payment. As a result, Collins sued the city and a judge ordered the city to pay $163,516.48 in unpaid bills and $181,804 in legal costs to the subcontractor. The city argues that, by contract, these costs must be paid by Redflex. Redflex says that the city was to blame for the incident and is countersuing for over $50,000 in legal costs.

“Because the city did not notify Redflex of the payment bond requirement, no payment bond was obtained, and a subcontractor did not get paid for its work on the Minneapolis installation,” Shulman wrote. “The subcontractor then sued the city and Redflex for payment, causing Redflex to incur attorneys’ fees and costs in defending the subcontractors’ claims… The city committed a material breach of the contract when it failed to notify Redflex that a payment bond was required.”

Minneapolis denies it is responsible and is immune from the Redflex claim because it is made against government officials who were performing their official duties.


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Redflex Executive Salary Exceeds Shareholder Profit Tue, 19 Oct 2010 12:33:09 +0000

Morale at Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian photo enforcement company with more contracts in the United States than any other firm, has never been lower. Yesterday, the company faced the real possibility that the state government in Victoria, Australia would sue for the recovery of $15 million in citations issued by a faulty Redflex freeway speed camera system. Although the government currently refuses to issue refunds, it issued equally stern denials before giving in to public pressure by refunding $26 million worth of tickets over a high-profile accuracy failure in 2003.

The latest bad news comes as employees in the US office fear layoffs in the wake of the cancellation of the multimillion-dollar Arizona freeway photo radar program. Some workers at the company have privately expressed anger that, despite firm’s precarious financial state, the head of US operations will receive a substantial raise. Shareholders are no more likely to be pleased to learn at the November 19 annual meeting that Karen Finley will be paid US$498,108 in a year when net profit for shareholders dropped 92.6 percent to a total of just $437,300.

This year, Finley boosted her salary by $9000 to $309,000 in addition to requesting 79,701 shares of stock incentives worth US$189,108. Other company directors can look forward to lavish increases as the annual meeting will vote on increasing the maximum annual payment to company directors from $396,000 to $693,000. Redflex CEO Graham Davie will be paid slightly less than Finley at $496,637– $310,375 in salary and $186,262 in stock.

In the past five years, that stock has dropped 19 percent compared to a 7 percent gain on the ASX 200 with shares currently trading at just US$2.41 on the Australian Securities Exchange. This poor performance has made the company an attractive buyout target. Toll road giant Macquarie Bank made an offer to buy out the firm, and more recently the German conglomerate Siemens AG has expressed interest.

Shareholders must approve the raises for company directors, the performance rights granted to Finley and Davie and the overall remuneration report.


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California: Red Light Camera Programs Face Class Action Suit Thu, 02 Sep 2010 14:25:42 +0000

A team of experienced class action lawyers is taking on California’s red light camera industry, and photo enforcement companies are expressing unease. Last month, the law firm of Pearson Simon Warshaw and Penny, LLP filed suit in San Mateo County Superior Court arguing that tickets issued throughout the Golden State since January 1, 2004 should be refunded where the photo enforcement contracts violated a state law mandating flat-rate compensation to companies like Redflex Traffic Systems. Redflex referred to the case as a particular business risk in an August 25 filing with the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The level of litigation industry‐wide has continued to be widespread with the majority of suits testing the constitutionality or administrative legitimacy of road safety enforcement programs,” Redflex explained. “A number of class action lawsuits involving others in our industry and Redflex have been filed challenging the pricing models used in several states alleging violation of cost neutrality laws as well as the admissibility of business records in court. We continue to aggressively defend against these claims.”

An aggressive defense will not come cheap. The firm spent $4.3 million to fend off a lawsuit filed by competitor American Traffic Solutions (ATS), even though the Australian firm won the case. Should this class action make it to trial, Redflex and co-defendant ATS could end up financially responsible for contracts in the fifty-nine jurisdictions identified as having the questionable language.

In the city of San Mateo, for example, Redflex is paid $120 for each $446 ticket issued at each red light camera intersection up to a monthly cap of $6030 per intersection. This so-called cost neutrality arrangement allows the city to have a guarantee that the cameras will never under any circumstances lose money. The class action suit argues that such clauses violate a state law prohibiting per-ticket compensation arrangements for automated ticketing contracts.

“Through their employees and agents, RTS, ATS and the Doe defendants, as defined below, entered into illegal contracts with public entities in California, operated automated traffic enforcement equipment in California and caused tickets to be issued to plaintiff and class members throughout California,” attorneys Bruce L. Simon and William J. Newsom wrote in the court filing.

The suit does not ask that existing convictions be overturned, but that Redflex and ATS pay damages for the amount of revenue the companies have collected from their unlawful business practices. The appellate divisions of both Orange County (view ruling) and San Mateo County (view decision) courts have already ruled “cost neutral” contract provisions are illegal, but the decisions have not been published. Only a handful of cities like San Mateo and San Carlos have dropped the cost neutral provisions. Contractors in these cities would still be sued for the amount of revenue generated prior to the contract revisions.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare all cost neutral contracts illegal and issue an injunction against all programs operating under such arrangements. It also asks for a full refund of all fines paid, plus appropriate punitive damages.


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Photo Ticket Firm Redflex Approaches Zero Profit Thu, 26 Aug 2010 14:24:02 +0000

Despite collecting A$137 million in revenue from automated traffic ticketing, the Australian photo enforcement giant Redflex Traffic Systems yesterday announced its net profit before tax had fallen to a mere $442,000 for the first half of 2010. Redflex remains the number one player in the US market with US motorists providing 79 percent of the company’s ticket revenue. Redflex management, however, blamed recent losses primarily on “considerable public opposition” to photo radar and red light cameras in the US.

Earlier this year, public protests organized by the group helped convince Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) to shut down the statewide photo radar program run by Redflex. This cost the company $13.1 million in expenses and write downs. Similarly, as cities elsewhere in the country have decided to cancel their photo ticketing programs, Redflex has been forced to write down another $2.8 million in canceled contracts.

Citizen-led ballot initiatives at both municipal and state levels are potential threats,” the company warned.

Redflex explained to Australian investors that it would fight back against the public through a “managed media interface.” In Arizona, the company cited the creation of the Safer Arizona Roads Alliance as a front group to advance the firm’s corporate agenda in the guise of a non-profit “grassroots” organization. Redflex highlighted a similar effort it is undertaking in Illinois through a “group of advocates.”

Tough market competition accounted for additional losses. Arizona-based rival American Traffic Solutions (ATS) filed an ambitious lawsuit that cost Redflex $4.3 million in legal expenses, even though the Australian firm won the case. ATS also expanded its market share significantly in buying out the German firm Traffipax and the UK firm Lasercraft, bringing Redflex and ATS even in red light camera deployments. Overall, however, Redflex claimed a 47 percent market share with ATS taking 40 percent and Xerox-owned Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) dropping to a mere 9 percent.

ACS, the offshoot of Lockheed Martin IMS, used to hold the number one position in US automated ticketing machines. It has since shifted focus to ticketing in non-US markets. Redflex likewise has looked aggressively to install its products in friendlier, authoritarian regimes. Redflex recently signed three contracts in Saudi Arabia worth $34 million, added 36 new cameras in Qatar, delivered $3 million in cameras for Hong Kong and has secured approval for its products in Turkey.

International exchange hit the Redflex bottom line as an eighteen percent drop in the value of the US dollar against the Australian dollar cost the company $19 million. The company’s net debt now stands at $43 million. Redflex announced it would save money through new software that would “automate citation screening” and reduce the human effort involved in collecting on a ticket by seven percent.


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Australia: 440 Tickets Refunded Due To Malfunctioning Redflex Camera Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:35:45 +0000

Officials in Tasmania, Australia last week reluctantly admitted that some of its speed cameras produced unreliable readings. The automated ticketing machines on Tasman Bridge were found to be issuing speeding tickets to vehicles that were not speeding, forcing a refund of 440 tickets issued between June 5 and July 5. According to The Mercury, a test of the device against a handheld speed gun showed inaccurate readings.

In Arizona, officials have no problem with the inaccurate output provided by the speed cameras. State law require that tickets be issued to the driver of the vehicle, not simply mailed to the the first name on the vehicle registration, as is the case in many other states. The law requires positive identification based on a comparison of a driver’s license photo and the image generated by a photo radar unit. The group CameraFraud produced a ticket that Redflex Traffic Systems had mailed from the recently canceled statewide freeway camera project. The driver of a white Chevy Silverado pickup truck can barely be seen as sun glare reflects off of the vehicle’s dirty windshield, yet Redflex mailed the ticket without making the required positive identification. There is no penalty for failing to abide by the law.

In January, the same camera system issued tickets to Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, a black man, even though the photographs clearly showed a white man behind the wheel.


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Arizona Redflex Speed Cameras Come Down This Week Mon, 12 Jul 2010 20:25:00 +0000

According to, Arizona’s controversial freeway speed cameras will come down this week, as a result of governor Jan Brewer’s decision to not renew the state’s contract with Redflex. In addition to public opposition to the cameras, a lack of revenue flowing to the state appears to have been a factor in the decision to shut down the cameras. Apparently, the cameras generated over 7,000 tickets in their first year of operations, but because so many motorists simply ignored the tickets and the state didn’t have enough process servers, only about $30m of the estimated $90m in fines that should have been generated by those tickets was actually paid to the state. Arizona’s freeway speed cameras should be deactivated by this Friday.

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Toll Road Giant Makes A Move On Red Light Camera Company Mon, 14 Jun 2010 13:04:39 +0000

Toll road giant Macquarie Bank this week announced its intention to acquire the leading operator of red light cameras and speed cameras in the US. Macquarie, known for its skill in harnessing government guarantees to make itself a “millionaire’s factory,” made an offer to purchase Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia at the bargain price of A$2.50 a share.

“Redflex does not intend to make any further announcement in relation to the proposal unless and until a binding proposal capable of being put to shareholders is received,” the photo ticketing firm said in a statement Wednesday.

Redflex splits the automated ticketing market with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), an Arizona-based company that is already heavily invested in providing services to the toll road industry. Diversification away from red light cameras and speed cameras appears to be a wise move as support wanes for photo enforcement. Already, ten cities and fifteen states have banned automated ticketing machines (view list). At least two more cities will have votes to ban cameras in November. Both ATS and Redflex are also likely to be banned from operating anywhere in the state of Arizona as the anti-camera statewide ballot initiative gathers steam.

Macquarie used heavily leveraged debt to purchase the Indiana Toll Road, the Dulles Greenway in Virginia and the Skyway in Chicago, Illinois. In May 2007, New York hedge fund manager Jim Chanos was the first major analyst to suggest Macquarie’s financial structure was unsound — while the firm was at its peak. Chanos is most famous for being among the first to warn of Enron’s fall.

Because of its dependence on government action to turn a profit, Macquarie has made attempts to purchase elected officials in the US as well as local newspapers to shape public opinion. When former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared to be the front runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, the company poured an estimated $70 to $90 million into “Giuliani Capital Advisors.” Giuliani’s White House bid eventually collapsed. Macquarie also invested $80 million into buying Texas newspapers that had previously been critical of that state’s push for new toll roads.

Redflex shares jumped to $2.39 a share on news of the possible takeover from its 52-week low of $1.50.

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ATS Loses Traffic Camera Court Battle Against Redflex Fri, 28 May 2010 15:17:16 +0000

A federal jury ruled Thursday against a traffic camera company that had sought to impose a $20 million fine on its nearest rival. The panel of eight spent an hour-and-a-half to arrive at the verdict denying American Traffic Solutions (ATS) payment for contract revenue lost in twelve cities after the Australian firm Redflex Traffic Systems snuck uncertified equipment into the country in violation of Federal Communications Commission regulations.

Redflex admitted that the DRS-3 radar system that it used on every mobile speed camera citation the company issued in the US between 1997 to 2008 was illegal. ATS argued that when Redflex portrayed its services to city and state officials as fully compliant with the law, these statements amounted to false advertising under the Lanham Act. US District Court Judge Frederick J. Martone scolded ATS in the final days of the trial, giving a glimpse at the jury verdict that was yet to come.

“At best the plaintiff has an extraordinarily weak case,” Martone said with the jury out of the courtroom. “It is weak at every point.”

Before the six-day trial began, Martone had expressed his frustration with the conduct of both companies in written motions, singling out Redflex for the greatest criticism. ATS attorneys had laid out a systematic case that Redflex knowingly misled cities, but Martone opined that the conduct did not appear to meet the definitions in the Lanham Act which deals with false advertising that misleads consumers, not government agencies.

ATS CEO Jim Tuton and top company officials like Adam Draizin argued their position in frequently combative testimony. Although Tuton lost the case, his lawyers grilled Redflex Holdings Ltd. Board Member Karen Finley on the stand, forcing her to admit that her company misled the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) regarding the legality of equipment used in the statewide photo radar contract, as follows:

ATTY: Mr Burke is a lawyer [who]… is writing this letter on behalf of Redflex to the chief procurement officer of Arizona DPS, is he not?


ATTY: Let’s turn to page four of this letter. Now the first thing he says here is: ‘Redflex has the intention and ability to fulfill this contract with certified equipment. The Multanova and AGD-340 are now FCC certified.’ You see that?

FINLEY: Um, yeah.

ATTY: We know now by the date of this letter, August 12, 2008, certainly the AGD-340 was certified but the Multanova DRS-3 was not certified, was it?

FINLEY: But I’m not sure when we found that out.

ATTY: Excuse me ma’am, that’s not my question. We know to this good day — Mr Carpinteri testified for us — that the DRS was never certified and it’s still not certified. Do you recall his testimony about that?

FINLEY: Um, yeah.

ATTY: Your lawyer, Mr. Burke, here tells the DPS that the Multanova was FCC certified, does he not, ma’am?

FINLEY: That’s what he says.

The intense litigation has imposed a heavy toll on both firms since ATS filed suit in November 2008. Redflex reported that the case was the primary reason the company’s legal bills had reached $6.2 million for the year. Redflex opened a retaliatory Lanham Act case against ATS in which trial is pending. US District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton had scheduled a pretrial conference for June 28, but ATS succeeded in delaying the move until Bolton rules on a motion to disqualify the Redflex law firm, Greenberg Traurig, because it has inside information on ATS operations from prior legal work. Redflex paid Greenberg more than $1 million for its help in defeating ATS.

Source: PDF File Civil Trial Minutes, Day Six (US District Court, District of Arizona, 5/27/2010)


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Traffic Camera Company Embeds Former Spokesman At Arizona Republic Mon, 17 May 2010 14:19:18 +0000

With ballot initiatives and other possible legislative action threatening to put a major photo enforcement company out of business, an effective public relations strategy has become the firm’s top priority. Redflex Traffic Systems on Friday had its former corporate spokesman, Michael Ferraresi, return to writing about the industry for the Arizona Republic newspaper, which covers the battleground market of Phoenix.

Ferraresi got his start at the Republic, which has for several years has provided soft coverage of the photo enforcement industry on its news pages and unabashed support on the editorial side. TheNewspaper analyzed every Republic article that mentioned Redflex between January 2007 and 2008 and found just only three percent of the space in any article, on average, presented any kind of opposing view. Redflex liked what it saw and hired Ferraresi to be its Associate Marketing Manager. In the January 18, 2008 article “Nonstop growth helps traffic company accelerate,” Republic reporter Jane Larson quoted then-Redflex spokesman Michael Ferraresi about the number of cameras the company had in the field. Arizona Republic editors ignored requests for comment when asked at the time whether it was ethical for the paper to quote a former reporter as a source.

Mark Obbie, associate professor in magazine journalism at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, also told TheNewspaper in a 2008 email that, although he was unfamiliar with the details of the Ferraresi situation, he was deeply concerned over the effect of the revolving door between industry and journalism.

“Mostly it’s bad for journalism — and, more important, for the public,” Obbie wrote. “Those same personal ties that can prove helpful can also inhibit honest reporting. Reporters have a harder time hammering a friend and former coworker. Even more insidious is the effect this revolving door has on beat reporters who may harbor hopes of cashing in some day with a move inside the corporation. What more reason does a reporter need to pull punches, and effectively perform PR while still on the newspaper’s payroll?”

Since that email, Ferraresi made one more revolution back through the door to the Republic. Ferraresi’s latest article was the first to mention Redflex since his return.

“As state leaders slammed the brakes on Arizona’s freeway photo speed-enforcement program, Phoenix police said they continue to see the safety benefits of photo radar and red-light cameras,” Ferraresi’s May 14 article began.

The article presented only the views of the Phoenix police and a pro-camera advocacy group. Before the Ferraresi hire, Redflex efforts at newspapers were limited to paid campaigns to generate letters to the editor that create the illusion of public support for automated enforcement.

“In Illinois a firm was engaged to manage the media interface, develop an advocacy to write letters to the editor, blog on a micro-site about street safety, and be ready to testify in committee hearings,” Redflex explained in a February 25 release to Australian investors. “This has led to positive news coverage and citizen support.”


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New Mexico: City Expands Traffic Cameras Despite Accident Increase Wed, 12 May 2010 14:03:59 +0000

The Las Cruces, New Mexico city council voted Monday to partially obey a New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to remove red light cameras and speed cameras from the state right-of-way by May 18. State officials are concerned with the negative impact that the devices have on safety, but Las Cruces officials emphasized the need to “work around” the state in expanding the red light camera program even though the city has seen an increase in accidents where photo enforcement has been installed.
“I don’t think we want to go to court with DOT commissioners over the red light cameras at Solano and Main,” City Councilor Dolores Connor said. “I guess we need to abide with their rules and move off of that location.”

Currently, Redflex runs the dual speed and red light cameras at four locations. The council agreed to ask Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that owns and operates the cameras, to deactivate the intersection of Main Street and Solano Drive. Although NMDOT ordered cameras down at the lucrative Valley Drive and Avenida de Mesilla intersection, Las Cruces will only take one of them down, claiming that a second device is located within the city’s jurisdiction. It will also add mobile speed camera vans to increase the number of citations issued citywide.

The safety results do not appear to provide a basis for expansion. Comparing a year’s worth of data before the devices were installed at three intersections to a year after, the number of collisions increased 13 percent from 53 to 60. The largest increase was in property damage accidents while injury collisions did not reduce significantly. The numbers would have looked even worse had the city included results from the intersection of Lohman and Telshor where officials claimed “construction” caused the significant increase in accidents. On the other hand, the city finance department estimated that the cameras would generate $5,012,847 in revenue through fiscal 2011.

Although most of the city council supports photo enforcement, Redflex has lost so many camera contracts this year that it would likely exercise its contract to prevent the city from ending the camera program entirely.

“We are very interested in working with the city,” Redflex account director Bob Warner said. “If the city were to take the position that they would not want to continue with the cameras, that would have to be something our executive committee would have to take a look at.”


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Traffic Camera Lobbyists Fight Back In Tenessee And Arizona Fri, 07 May 2010 14:03:30 +0000

Lobbyists for municipalities and photo enforcement companies have succeeded in gutting attempts to place even the most minor of restrictions on the use of red light cameras and speed cameras in Arizona and Tennessee. For more than a year, the Tennessee General Assembly debated the wisdom of restricting the use of automated ticketing machines. A special study committee was established where state House members listened to testimony almost exclusively from representatives of cities and the private, for-profit companies that operate traffic cameras. The committee now has nothing to show for its effort.

On Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee voted to scuttle its version of a bill that, although sold as a “restriction” on the use of cameras, reflected a compromise designed to ensure no party with a financial interest in the use of the devices would be offended. As amended in the House, the proposal would have:

  • Required warning signs, already in use in most jurisdictions
  • Prohibited red light camera tickets on a yellow or green light
  • Made the registered owner of a vehicle responsible for crimes committed by anyone else driving the car
  • Authorized the state transportation department to use speed cameras on freeways by declaring “work zones”
  • Forced a city council vote before installing cameras, which is already done
  • Required an engineering study, including setting yellow times at the already lowered ITE standard
  • Required a speed camera accuracy check once every six months
  • Allowed the state comptroller to audit any photo ticketing contract
  • Set the fine at $50, which is what cities already charge

Even though the legislation would have had virtually no effect if enacted, lobbyists feared that a meaningful restriction could have emerged from a conference committee reconciling the difference between the House and Senate-passed measures. For them, it was safer to drop the bill entirely. Earlier this year, the House committee had agreed to some minor protections for motorists, all of which were stripped out by the House amendment (PDF File view HB1341, as amended, 90k PDF).

Despite the dropping of the freeway speed camera program in Arizona yesterday, red light cameras are still active among municipalities statewide. In the name of protecting motorists, lawmakers enacted a signal timing “reform” that makes no difference to either existing practice or existing law. On Monday, Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed House Bill 2338, which adds the following line to the section of state code tasking the Arizona Department of Transportation with designating a manual setting standards for the use of traffic control devices: “The manual shall include the specification that the yellow light duration must be at least three seconds” (PDF File view HB2338, 20k PDF).

The legislation made no other change. Page 28 of Arizona Department of Transportation’s Supplement to the 2003 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices already states: “A yellow change interval should have a duration of approximately three to six seconds.” This line is taken verbatim from the federal manual, which is incorporated by reference as law in all fifty states (PDF File view MUTCD excerpt, 40k PDF).


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Arizona Drops Redflex Freeway Speed Camera Contract Thu, 06 May 2010 13:41:33 +0000

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s administration has officially canceled the state contract that authorized Redflex Traffic Systems to issue automated freeway speeding tickets. The program, started in 2008 by Brewer’s Democratic predecessor Janet Napolitano, will be terminated according to statement issued earlier today to Australian Securities Exchange investors.

“Redflex has now received formal notification from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) that the contract will not be renewed,” Redflex stated.

Although the official contract expiration date is July 1, inside sources expect speed vans to be pulled off the highways much sooner. As a result of the lost revenue stream, Redflex said it would take a $5 million loss on top of a previously announced $4.9 million loss arising from residents realizing that tickets sent in the mail can be safely ignored. A 1992 appeals court ruling declared void any attempt to impose a fine without personal service (read opinion).

Intense public pressure against photo enforcement in general spurred the decision to end the contract. While the loss of the statewide ticketing program is significant in terms of revenue to the state and other interested parties, the industry hopes to relieve the pressure that has been building to outlaw the far more lucrative red light camera and speed camera programs in local jurisdictions.

“Even if the program does continue in early FY2011, a number of groups opposed to photo enforcement are trying to have a referendum put to voters in November 2011 to effectively end photo enforcement in the state of Arizona,” a Redflex statement issued last month explained. “Whether this referendum occurs, and the likely outcome, are difficult to predict at this stage.”

Referendum organizers insist that they will press forward with their effort because there are no guarantees that the freeway cameras will not make a comeback after the elections. Municipal cameras, moreover, issue just as many tickets as the statewide cameras and raise all of the same constitutional and safety issues.

“Arizonans know that these cameras increase accidents (view studies),” Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar representative Shawn Dow told TheNewspaper. “Now it is time for the red light cameras to come down.”

On top of the contract difficulties, a lawsuit by competitor American Traffic Solutions has brought the Redflex legal bill for the year to $6.2 million. The company reported a pre-tax profit of $13.4 million last year. In April, Redflex reduced the expectation to $7 million. The latest announcement dropped the figure to just $2 million.

The jury trial in the case ATS v. Redflex will commence at 9am on May 11 before US District Court Judge Frederick J. Martone. The trial is expected to last six days.


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More California Cities Keep, Dump Red Light Cameras Mon, 19 Apr 2010 13:54:06 +0000

Three California city councils debated whether to keep or discard red light cameras last week. In Loma Linda officials on Tuesday voted to drop automated enforcement while South San Francisco officials voted to keep it on Wednesday. The debates followed in the wake of a decision by the city of San Carlos last Monday to drop cameras after the duration of the yellow light at the camera-enforced intersection was extended by one second, eliminating the system’s profitability.

San Carlos Mayor Randy Royce wrote to the South San Francisco council urging them not to renew their automated ticketing contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

“Our city council is disappointed with the representations made by Redflex and our approved motion included direction to staff to go back to the vendor and propose termination of the three-year contract immediately,” Royce wrote. “My personal recommendations as learned from this experience are that 1) don’t assume that red light cameras improve safety, 2) recognize that people are generally smarter than cameras so expect a significant reduction in citations over time, and 3) never commit to a lease term longer than your cell-phone provider.”

The South San Francisco council ignored the advice and approved a long-term contract extension. Vice Mayor Kevin Mullin argued that although the city’s cameras have not been in operation long enough to judge their effectiveness, he trusted the results of other cities that claimed accidents were reduced after camera installation. About a dozen ordinary citizens showed up to disagree while three testified in favor of keeping the devices. The most common complaint centered around the seemingly random flashing from the camera.

“The lights are very bright and on a few occasions when I was turning right, the light was so bright my vision was impaired for a couple of seconds,” motorist Diane Fitzgibbon said. “I wonder if the police department considers this safe. As you know it only takes a few seconds for an accident to occur.”

Despite being discouraged from doing so by the mayor, the audience applauded residents who opposed cameras. More than one resident suggested this is a matter better decided by the people.

“I’d love to see American Traffic Solutions’ business plan,” motorist Jim Lawless told the city council. “Going around the country and getting places to put in things saying, ‘no installation cost, no startup fees, turnkey operation.’ They’re selling it to you. But the one thing they haven’t done in terms of environmental impact — you got an approval from CalTrans according to this report — but you didn’t get the approval of the citizens of South San Francisco…. You people stop voting on this and let us vote on it, because I don’t think the people of South San Francisco want it.”

Although the city began issuing tickets in August 2009, most citations have been refunded due to legal problems with the council’s action. According to police data, 95 percent of citations went to people who made slow right-hand turns at red lights. Mayor Mark Addiego was convinced that after all of the trouble the program should finally be canceled.

“I’m not OK taking this much money out of the economy at this time,” Addiego said. “These initial five months, $1.5 million — $300,000 a month. That’s great revenue, but it’s like ill-gotten gains. Someone spoke this evening about the populace, the citizenry, losing respect for the police. I’m afraid that’s happening to a degree. There’s a lot of passion in this, and I don’t want that directed at my police department. It’s not worth it.”

In the end, however, only Councilman Pedro Gonzalez supported Addiego in seeking to terminate the contract. The council voted 3-2 for an extension and the program will resume ticketing on May 15.

In Loma Linda, the council agreed that there was a consensus in the community to drop red light camera ticketing. The city will send a letter to Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia “at the earliest time” informing them that the city will not renew its contract in December. Loma Linda saw a 92 percent drop in violations after it lengthened the duration of yellow lights by one second.


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Traffic Camera Firm Issues Threatening Letter To Jefferson Parish, Louisiana Thu, 01 Apr 2010 14:32:26 +0000

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana has until 4pm today to meet the demands of Redflex Traffic Systems, the company that until January operated red light cameras and speed cameras for the local government. The Australian firm is absolutely furious that parish officials have withheld payment while the program faced lawsuits from citizens and corruption probes from federal investigators. Redflex insisted that the “millions of dollars” owed must be deposited in the Redflex accounts before the close of business today.

“Remit to the company all outstanding proceeds of the program due,” attorney Douglas R. Holmes demanded on behalf of Redflex. “This remittance should include any and all costs, penalties and interest. Additionally, Redflex demands that the parish reactivate the red light camera program, which we contend was clearly suspended without cause or justification under the terms of the agreement… In the event the parish fails to comply with these demands, Redflex will have no choice but to seek legal action to protect its financial and reputational interest.”

Although Jefferson Parish officials signed up for automated ticketing in 2007, those leaders have since resigned in disgrace in the wake of a widening scandal involving bribery and fraud. Interim Parish President Stephen Theriot suspended the red light camera program after documents revealed that Redflex paid 3.2 percent of its revenue from ticket proceeds to lobbyist Bryan Wagner, a former New Orleans city councilman, who shared the funds with the wife of District Judge Robert Murphy. Wagner was set to earn an estimated $90,000 a year from his cut of the photo tickets. Jay Morris Specter, the lobbyist who hired Wagner on behalf of Redflex, is currently serving time for fraud at Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution in South Carolina with an expected release date of September 21. Redflex insists the company has not been tainted its association with Specter and others.

“Jefferson Parish and local and out-of-town media have insinuated that Redflex has done something wrong, perhaps illegal, relative to our local operations, yet to date there has been absolutely no formal allegation that Redflex has done anything illegal or improper,” Holmes wrote. “Opponents of red light cameras in general, as well as Redflex competitors who utilized their own consultants to pursue the parish contract, have used this cloud of suspicion created by the parish and the media to discourage other jurisdictions from using Redflex services and technologies.”

The Redflex demand followed a March 24 letter from the parish announcing that an outside firm would audit the red light camera contract to investigate any irregularities. A study by the Journal of Trauma published last month found no evidence that photo enforcement produced any significant safety benefit in Jefferson Parish.

A copy of the letter is available in a 130k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Jefferson Parish Red Light Camera Safety Program (Chaffe McCall LLP for Redflex, 3/26/2010)


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Partnership for Advancing Road Safety Is New Photo Enforcement Industry Front Group Wed, 17 Mar 2010 14:03:17 +0000

The photo enforcement industry announced on Friday the creation of a new red light camera and speed camera advocacy group. The Partnership for Advancing Road Safety (PARS) describes itself as an organization that seeks to use best practices to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on American highways. The group’s number one priority is countering the growing nationwide backlash against the use of automated ticketing machines that has resulted in multi-million dollar loses for camera vendors.

“While a vocal minority may oppose road safety cameras, our research indicates just the opposite — 80 percent of the public support intersection safety cameras and 67 percent support speed safety cameras,” said PARS Executive Director David Kelly. “Automated road safety cameras share one thing in common with other proven safety countermeasures — they save lives. And that’s the message PARS intends to communicate to everyone we can reach.”

Kelly provides a respectable face for the group as the former chief of staff for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a former senior staffer at Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The group itself, however, is the creation of the public relations firm APCO Worldwide. The website was registered by APCO. The PARS contact on the group’s press release, Jeffery A. Smith, listed a “” email address, but the phone number given rings the offices at APCO.

The “founding members” that hired APCO for this public relations project include Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, UK-based Lasercraft and Redspeed, Germany-based Traffipax and Australia-based Redflex. The overseas companies use front groups to evade laws prohibiting direct foreign influence in the US electoral process. Redflex, for example, specifically cited an “APCO nationwide poll” in a press release issued earlier this month, making no mention of its connection to the firm.

“In a recent nationwide opinion poll, voters showed 80 percent support of the red light cameras as a safety tool,” the Redflex news release stated.

Despite the bold claim, neither red light cameras nor speed cameras have ever survived a public vote. In nine out of nine municipal referenda on the issue, automated ticketing lost with as much as 86 percent of the public voting against cameras.


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Colorado, Italy: Speed Camera Operators Caught Disregarding Law Mon, 08 Mar 2010 14:14:29 +0000

The private company that operates speed cameras in Denver, Colorado is ignoring the provisions of state law designed to protect the public. Motorist Bill O’Neil used his cell phone camera to document the lack of warning signs around a photo radar van issuing tickets on First Avenue in January, KMGH-TV reported. City officials entrust Redflex Traffic Systems, an Australian company compensated based on the number of tickets it is able to issue, with the responsibility of placing the signs. A police spokesman told KMGH that signs were out, just on the other side of the road.

Similar tactics are used in the city of Fort Collins, where a speed camera van was hidden behind a bridge abutment on Tuesday. The warning sign was placed on the ground, partially obscured by a planter, the Coloradoan newspaper reported.

In Genoa, Italy a local judge has ruled that average speed cameras are illegal. Justice of the Peace Elena Paolicchi canceled a ticket issued on the A7 between Genoa and Milan after motorists organized by the website challenged the reading of the system known as Tutor. A written ruling has not been issued in the case, but the challenge was filed questioning the system’s accuracy and the integrity of the evidence. Red light camera systems known as T-Red caused such a controversy with the shortening of yellow lights and corrupt, backroom deals that Italy’s Ministry of Interior last year banned private companies from operating photo enforcement devices.


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Red Light Camera Giant Redflex Loses $8 Million From Opposition Fri, 26 Feb 2010 14:28:03 +0000

The number one speed camera and red light camera operator in the US today reported that its profits plunged by 32 percent in the first half of fiscal 2010, due in large measure to rising public discontent with automated enforcement. Redflex Traffic Systems told Australian shareholders that after adjusting for exchange rates, the company lost A$8 million, primarily as a result of citizen activists taking action against photo enforcement.

“The business, particularly in the US, has become more difficult over recent years, and the results reflect the influence of a range of adverse issues and circumstances on the business, including… the rise of opposition from various groups opposed to photo enforcement, resulting in challenges to programs through citizen initiated referenda,” a company statement explained. “A state wide ballot initiative [in Arizona] could result in negative impact.”

To date, citizen groups nationwide have succeeded in putting the question of photo enforcement on the ballot in nine cities. All nine voted to ban automated ticketing, with margins as high as 86 percent against the cameras (view list of cities). The largest citizen-led revolt so far is happening in the state of Arizona where the group has used a continual stream of protests, a Facebook page and other techniques to educate drivers that citations mailed from the program could be thrown away, unpaid. Only personally served notices are valid in the state. Redflex reported that the Arizona program so far has lost $4.9 million.

“Citation payment rates remain low due to the inability to achieve acceptable payment rates from violators,” the company explained. “Our push to reform the laws governing traffic enforcement with the Arizona Legislature and with the Arizona Supreme Court makes 2010 a critical year for our Company in Arizona…. Once corrective legislation is passed payment rates are expected to rise to the average historical payments rates typical for the Arizona business model.”

Discontent with photo ticketing has spread nationwide as politicians fear they may lose their jobs if they are responsible for bringing cameras into their community, although Redflex suggests the recession may also play a role.

“The rate of new contract signings has clearly decreased since a year ago,” Redflex admitted. “It is not clear at this stage whether this is driven by the economic environment, by the level of opposition, or by a slowdown in the rate of growth in the industry as a whole.”

A number of cities that use Redflex or a competitor have dropped the use of automated ticketing machines entirely in California over the past few years, including Compton, El Monte, Fairfield, Maywood, Moreno Valley, Redlands, Roseville, San Jose photo radar and Upland. Loma Linda is waiting to drop Redflex. Other states are following California’s lead as Avondale, Arizona; Schaumburg, Illinois as well as Brunswick and Dalton, Georgia also canceled their programs.

“As has been experienced over prior years, there is no guarantee that all contracts will be renewed at completion of their base contract term,” a Redflex statement explained. “Some cities have decided not to continue, and we have experienced early shutdowns in two cities.”

The company’s other major financial burden has been a lawsuit filed by American Traffic Solutions has cost Redflex another $1.3 million (more info). A shareholder revolt also cost the company $197,000 in expenses related to a change in the board of directors.


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California: Longer Yellows Nearly Eliminate Violations Mon, 22 Feb 2010 15:23:51 +0000
Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia succeeded last week in blocking efforts to end red light camera ticketing in Loma Linda, California. While several members of the city council expressed a desire to uproot the automated ticketing machines, Redflex insisted that could not be done unless the city paid $534,558 in early termination penalties. The council declined to take any action at its February meeting.

The problems began after the city extended the duration of yellow lights in November. This engineering enhancement reduced the number of straight through violations to drop to near zero with the consequence that only citations for rolling right-hand turns remained. With a pricetag of $456 for each of these citations, the council had been hit with complaints about such a stiff fine for a type of violation that does not cause accidents.

“I have received a number of complaints and emails from individuals,” Councilman Ovidu Popescu said. “They teach you in business that for one complaint, that’s at least ten individuals who are very upset.”

Popescu and Councilman Rhodes Rigsby led the charge to terminate the camera contract immediately because the program enraged constituents without providing any safety benefit.

“I’m not sure the statistics when it comes to auto accidents — it doesn’t show a decrease in accidents,” Rigsby said. “If we’re going to fine our visitors and our citizens $12 or $14 million over four years, we should at least expect a safety benefit, and I just don’t see it.”

The council, on the other hand, was extremely pleased with the results of lengthening yellow lights by one second in November. The number of left-turn violations dropped 80 to 85 percent from about 240 monthly violations to about 25 or 30 a month immediately after the change. Straight through violations were reduced 92 percent.

“Lengthening yellow lights has produced a tremendous drop in violations,” Rigsby said. “The statistics from January are very telling. For four intersections, there were five straight through violations in total. That is tremendous improvement in safety. We’re talking about huge success of lengthening the yellow lights… We could have had that safety with lengthening the yellow four years ago instead of installing red light cameras.”

Councilman Floyd Petersen wanted to know why city staff never tried lengthening yellow before.

“Councilman Rigsby brought up the issue and pushed on it really hard,” Petersen said. “We have a whole profession out there called traffic engineers. We pay these people a lot of money to figure out the best way to set up the lights. Where are these people? Why haven’t they ever suggested lengthening the yellow light? What’s the deal? They aren’t being paid off by the camera people, are they?”

City staff defended the idea of keeping the cameras and endorsed short yellows.

“If you lengthen the yellow light, you reduce the green light,” Public Works Director T. Jarb Thaipejr said. “So then I will get a call from someone who said, ‘I waited so long at the red light.’ The whole idea of traffic engineering is to move the traffic.”

Popescu vowed to bring early termination to a vote next month. The contract will expire on its own in December.

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Arizona Senate Panel Approves Photo Ticketing Expansion Wed, 17 Feb 2010 17:05:42 +0000

The Arizona Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee approved legislation last Wednesday that would substantially expand the size and scope of the photo enforcement program in the state. Lawmakers voted 6-1 to approve legislation allowing the use of automated ticketing machines for a number of new types of violations. Committee Chairman Linda Gray (R-Phoenix) sponsored the legislation after becoming an enthusiastic supporter of cameras.

“I have come to understand with the data that has come in photo radar has provided for safer highways,” Gray said. “So I have a different perspective today than when I first learned of what photo radar is doing.”

Although Gray introduced the legislation claiming it would “reform” the photo enforcement program, the measure was in fact drafted by Redflex Traffic Systems, a firm based in Australia. The company listened to lawmaker complaints and included some mild changes that would not affect the company’s existing practice, such as a change in the signage requirements. The legislation also included a number of items of direct financial interest to the company.

“We appreciate senator Gray for working with us,” Redflex lobbyist Mike Williams said. “We’ve worked with legislators for the past three years.”

Under the current program, for example, a vehicle must be accused of traveling 11 MPH above the speed limit before Redflex can mail a photo citation. The Redflex legislation eliminates this buffer and allows the issuance of tickets for driving as little as 1 MPH over the limit in either a school zone or highway work zone. Signage requirements are gutted by a provision that allows photo radar warning signs to be left up for up to 24 hours when no photo radar is in use. The bill also eliminates the requirement that photo tickets be issued only for speed and red light violations, opening up the possibility that such tickets could be issued for cell phone and other violations. The initial draft of the legislation specifically included language that would allow Redflex to issue tickets to motorists accused of having lapsed insurance or vehicle registration.

Existing law gives photo enforcement companies sixty days to properly serve notice on a photo ticket recipient. The bill would double this to 120 days to address the fact that 73 percent of Arizona ticket recipients refuse to pay. The public’s widespread opposition to the program created the grassroots group which is circulating a referendum petition that would ban cameras throughout the state.

“It’s probably going on the ballot,” Williams said. “My understanding is they’re very active in gathering signatures.”

To combat the initiative, the committee also adopted a Redflex-sponsored measure, SCR1059, which would place the exact legislative language already adopted by the committee in SB1443 on the ballot.

“It mirrors what we just voted on — why do we need it?” state Senator Al Melvin (R-Tucson) asked. “It will be a ballot measure in competition with getting rid of them completely. It sounds like the electorate could be confused.”

Senators Melvin and Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) voted against SCR1059. A copy of the legislation is available in a 40k PDF file at the source link below.

Update: State Representative Frank R. Antenori (R-Tucson) issued a statement suggesting he was deceived by the lobbying effort on this legislation.

“In the case of SB1443, I was led to believe that the bill set guidelines for city, county and state use of photo radar and was a bill to significantly limit their use, not expand them,” Antenori wrote. “As I had time to review the full text of bill, I came to realize that I was not presented with all of the provisions contained in the bill… The bill does in fact expand the use of photo radar for the purpose of issuing citations for other infractions besides speeding. Therefore I am pulling my support from this bill and will actively work to defeat it in the State House of Representatives.”

Source: PDF File Senate Concurrent Resolution 1059 (Arizona Legislature, 2/17/2010)

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