Houston, Texas Pulls Plug on Red Light Camera Program

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

The long battle over the red light camera program in Houston, Texas ended Wednesday. The city council voted 14-1 to repeal the ordinance that granted American Traffic Solutions (ATS) the right to issue automated tickets at fifty intersections throughout the country’s fourth largest city.

“This is a total victory for the voters of Houston,” Citizens Against Red Light Cameras spokesman Philip Owens told TheNewspaper. “The only shame is it took too long to get where we are. Today was more of an exercise in political theater but a win is a win.”

The anti-camera group successfully brought a charter amendment on the red light camera issue before voters in November, and a solid majority rejected photo ticketing. ATS refused to accept the public’s verdict, which meant the loss of $3 million a year in revenue. The company found a federal judge willing to overturn the ballot choice ( view ruling), giving Mayor Annise D. Parker an excuse to turn the cameras back on. Feeling heat from the public, Parker backed off and decided it would be best to buy their way out of the contract with ATS, which does not expire until 2014. ATS has claimed the city will owe $25 million if the cameras are shut off.

“We are prepared to pay a reasonable settlement, but what that settlement is is undetermined,” Parker said. “We think they’re on the lower end. ATS — their number keeps growing… If we are in fact told by a judge to pay it, we will figure a way to pay it.”

The council adopted a measure insisting the cameras not only be shut off, but permanently removed as soon as possible in accordance with the law. Judge Lynn N. Hughes issued a management order last year at the request of ATS forcing the cameras to remain up until the case is finally resolved. Houston had agreed to the ATS request.

“I’m going to go back into federal court and ask the judge to rescind his management order so that the cameras can come down in accordance with the contract,” City Attorney David Feldman said. “I have no reason to believe the judge would refuse my request to rescind the order.”

Under the contract, ATS would be required to take down the cameras within 45 days at their expense if Judge Hughes lifts his order.

“There’s ample precedent for cities taking down the cameras,” Feldman said. “For every contract ATS seems to enter into — just following it on the Net — there’s a city taking the cameras down and getting out of the contract.”

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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  • FleetofWheel FleetofWheel on Aug 26, 2011

    These killer clauses that the cities so eagerly agree to as a poison pill are akin to a sleazy retailer that sells gray market electronic junk with a 50% fee for returns.

  • Jcwconsult Jcwconsult on Aug 27, 2011

    One thing should be clear to other cities. ATS is a greedy, aggressive, predatory company that wants their "pound of financial flesh" regardless of any other issues. Hopefully the way they have treated Houston will make other cities refuse to do any future business with ATS because of their predatory treatment of Houston. Maybe, just maybe, Council will order the Houston engineers to set longer yellow intervals to reduce red light violations and improve safety, something the engineers have so far refused to do. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI (frequent visitor to Texas for long stays)

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.
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