Pennsylvania effort would expand, extend use of automated tickets

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/23/2016

A leading Pennsylvania state lawmaker has introduced a bill to increase and extend the state’s red-light camera program at the same time the governor has announced traffic safety grants using the ticket revenue.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, is behind a bill that covers traffic signals and the use of automated enforcement in the state.

The legislation, SB1267, covers the state’s three-year-old Green Light-Go program that benefits municipalities throughout the state. Specifically, localities are eligible for funding through the program to upgrade their traffic signals.

Rafferty said his bill would reduce the local match, allow for other matching funds beyond private and municipal, and include additional provisions for traffic signal management and enforcement.

A separate provision in the bill would delay plans to rid the state of red-light cameras.

Automated ticketing devices are used in the city of Philadelphia and certain other municipalities. Without legislative action to save them, the devices are set to be discontinued next year.

Rafferty’s bill would extend the sunset provision for red-light cameras to 2027.

Critics say the legislation is an effort to help ensure the existing ticketing programs never go away.

The bill’s introduction precedes Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement last week that $5.5 million will be allotted to 18 municipalities for various “transportation enhancement” projects.

The Automated Red Light Enforcement funds are intended to improve traffic flows in areas that include Philadelphia via smart traffic signals. The enhancements will enable the city to remotely control traffic signals, adjust timing to current traffic conditions, and account for construction detours.

The program, which is funded by red-light cameras at 28 Philadelphia intersections, has distributed $45.4 million statewide since 2010. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, automated ticketing in the city has raised revenues by a total of $82 million before expenses.

Gov. Wolf says the program brings safer travel to every corner of the state.

“While having all drivers traveling safely is our ultimate goal, I’m pleased that traffic fines are being reinvested into making our communities safer.”

A 2012 state law extended Philadelphia’s program to July 2017, and it authorized 29 municipalities to install the ticketing devices. To date, only Abington Township in Montgomery County has installed cameras.

The legislation in the Senate Transportation Committee would extend the ticketing program by one decade.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania, click here.

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