Beginning July 11th New York City’s school zone speed camera program will begin a massive expansion in both the number of cameras as well as hours of operation. The City will go from 140 to 750 by June 2020, an increase of approximately 436%. The number of cameras could go as high as 2,000, as per the New York Times.
Previously, the cameras could only operate during a school’s active hours. Now they will all operate on weekdays year-round between 6am to 10pm (hence the July start date). The camera zones themselves will also expand to a quarter mile radius from a school rather than the previous quarter mile of a school along an abutting street. Fines will remain $50 and will continue to be issued to those who exceed the posted speed limit (25 miles per hour for most streets) by more than 10 miles per hour. It is important to note that there have been instances of speed cameras erroneously issuing tickets to motorists who were well within the limit.
There are those who feel that these cameras are more about revenue than safety (year-round enforcement till 10pm certainly gives credence to that argument) although NYC DOT counters that by citing speeding at locations with cameras decreased by more than 60% with over 80% of violators not receiving a second ticket. More transparent financial reporting would add clarity to this issue, which is supposed to be a component of the new law, as it will update the annual reporting requirements to include information related to the effectiveness of operating hours, in addition to information regarding city government funding allocations to improve traffic and pedestrian safety. Such transparency is sorely lacking, and this would be a welcomed change.
Remember that NYC DOT might “run” the program, but this is done as a public-private partnership. It is part of a three-year, $176 million contract with a for profit company, Verra Mobility, to install and maintain enforcement cameras that also catch vehicles that run red lights and block bus lanes.