Last week Lacombe City council voted to terminate the Automated Traffic Enforcement Program (ATEP), also known as photo radar. Residents and visitors to the city saw the end of the program this past Monday.
The photo radar program was initiated by the City in October 2013 and ran for two years. It was administered by an independent third party contractor, Independent Traffic Services Ltd. The idea behind the program was to, combined with other speed enforcement methods, reduce the number and severity of collisions on the road, not to necessarily stop all speeders in the city.
According to the 2015 Automated Traffic Enforcement Year End Review, 28 locations in the city were approved for enforcement, chosen for high pedestrian volumes, school zones, high collision areas and other spots that are frequent for speeders.
From the review, several statistics were generated which include an estimation of 5.8 tickets per hour during enforcement hours and a grand total of 10,427 tickets issued from November 2014 to November 2015.
The net revenue to the City for the ATEP in 2014 was $428,175 and in 2015 was $395,134.
One of the things the review did reveal, other than the astounding amount of tickets given out, was that over the two year period, Lacombe residents did seem to be learning from the program as the amount of resident tickets had decreased. Around 53% of the tickets given out over the last year were to non-Lacombe residents.
Although it was recommended by administration, the Traffic Safety Committee and the Lacombe Police Commission for the program to continue on for another year, council based their decision on other factors such as the real value to residents and the effectiveness of the program in actually deterring speeding in the city.
Again, the review detailed that the city had a 26% drop in collisions from 2013 to 2014. The number has remained consistent in 2014 and 2015, both with 131 reported collisions, although this was during the two years the ATEP was in operation.
Whether council made the correct decision in eliminating this program is up for debate. Either way, they will have to account for an estimated $325,000 missing from the budget.
Councillors will have to re-evaluate the upcoming 2016 budget. They will be discussing the implications of the 2016 Capital and Operating budgets from the feedback garnered during the recently held budget open house and the decision to terminate ATEP at their next committee meeting on Dec. 7th, followed by decision at the next council meeting.