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Traffic cams, speed van aren't big revenue producers

After seeing the story about a proposed new police station, we wondered how much revenue comes in from citations from the red-light cameras and the speed-check photo van around town? It seems like those two enforcement functions would produce a steady revenue stream.

— Oscar Z., Medford

Red light that thought, Oscar. According to Medford police Chief Tim George, the costs to install the two photo cameras — at Biddle and McAndrews roads, and Barnett Road and Stewart Avenue — proved to be much greater than the revenues recovered.

At one time, a lot of people ran red lights at those locations. But once people started getting tickets for their offenses, and word got out about the photo cameras, things changed.

"People are creatures of habit," George said. "Once they learn they are going to get a ticket for this violation, they correct their behavior."

The two cameras cost about $100,000 to install. And, while they have made the intersections safer, they bring in only about two violations a day, George said.

"It almost costs more to run them than it creates in fees," he said.

George said the same is true for the speed-check photo van. The van requires an officer to operate the camera. The operator is usually a retired officer, he said.

The camera tends to have a deterrent effect and drivers have learned to be on the lookout for the van, George said.

"This is not a revenue stream," George said. "And it certainly isn't going to get us the $18 million needed to build a new police station."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.