Only a few weeks after Gulfport decided not to renew their contract with American Traffic Solutions [ATS], South Pasadena held a special workshop to meet with the company.
“It might be time for us to stop,” City Commissioner Arthur Penny said. “Maybe for a year and see where we stand. The cameras have done what they were supposed to do, but it is time to take a rest.”
According to Finance Director Jim Graham, the city brought in $2.9 million dollars from red light camera violations over the last five years. The city previously had five cameras in a one-mile stretch, but that was eventually reduced to four.
Mayor Dan Calabria weighed several reasons to keep or remove the cameras, but was swayed by Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, which polices South Pasadena, removing themselves from any red light camera activity. Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes has also recently introduced a bill that would outlaw the cameras. However, the proposed law wouldn’t take effect until 2019, allowing for municipalities’ contracts with vendors like ATS to expire.
“The sheriff said we should not renew [the contract],” Calabria said. “Let’s take a time out and see where it goes.”
David Mast, a representative of ATS who spoke to Gulfport City Council only weeks ago, returned to southern Pinellas County to make his case in front of the South Pasadena Commission.
This time, armed with a lawyer and several colleagues on a conference call, Mast warned that even though fewer people have run red lights since implementing the program, studies show that people will go right back to old habits once cameras are removed.
“There is absolutely no doubt,” Mast said, referencing a report from Houston, Texas. Mast states that when Houston removed their cameras, drivers went back to old habits and red light violations rose.
Commission voted 4-1 to not renew the contract with ATS, with Vice Mayor Lari Johnson opposed.
“I’ve always believed red light cameras changed driver behavior,” Johnson said. “I wanted to speak out.”
The cameras will be operational until March 26.