Burien’s Red Light Cameras On Track To Gross Over $654,000 In First Year, Nearly 3x Projected Revenue

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by Scott Schaefer

Burien’s four red light cameras have been up and running for about four months, and according to the city’s Oct. 22nd e-newsletter, they are averaging “around 540 infractions per month.”

This puts the program on track to gross over $654,000 in its first year of operation.

As we’ve previously reported, the city initially projected that the first year would bring in around $200,000, with $250,000 for the second year and subsequent totals dropping after 2011 as drivers became more aware of them.

So we did some simple math, and discovered some rather surprising totals:

  • Each red light ticket = $101 fine
  • 540 tickets per month x 101 = $54,540 per month
  • 12 x $54,540 = $654,480 annual gross revenue
  • The monthly fee to camera provider RedFlex Systems appears to cap out at $6,870 ($82,440 annually)
  • If the 540 per month average continues, the city will take in over $572,000 in revenue during the first year of this program ($654,480 – $82,440 = $572,040)
  • That total is nearly three times the initial projected first-year total of $200,000

The camera earning the most money currently is the westbound one at SW 148th Street and First Ave South (Go 148th!), which is generating about 35% of the total infractions, or 189 per month (just over 6 per day), which equals a monthly sum of $19,089 – or more than $229,000 annually, which on its own surpasses the original $200k projection.

These four revenue-generating red-light cameras are located at three intersections, so next time you pass one, listen for the familiar “ka-ching” cash register sound:

  • SW 148th & First Ave South – westbound and eastbound
  • SW 152nd & First Ave South – westbound
  • SW 160th & First Ave South – eastbound

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20 Responses to “Burien’s Red Light Cameras On Track To Gross Over $654,000 In First Year, Nearly 3x Projected Revenue”
  1. Rainycity says:

    There ya go, use the money from these chicken dropping entrapment cameras to
    build the sidewalks and bike lanes, After all, this windfall of ill gotten gains isn

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    • Rainycity says:

      This windfall of ill dotten gains aren`t really slated for use anywhere else right now are they?

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  2. Greg Fox says:

    You speed-you get busted-good…
    Many cities all over the US are doing this and it has been a tremendous success everywhere.
    No sympathy for anyone getting busted by a camera. It lets the police do other, more important, things…

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    • Rainycity says:

      Ummm, I must have missed something here, what do the cameras have to do with catching sppeders???????

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  3. David Frasch says:

    We need to do everything we can to stop these red light cameras, they are a tax everyone will pay eventually. If you think you obay the laws and will never get a ticket, just wait. There are lots of studys that show the intersections that have cameras accidents rise because people do stupid things trying to avoid getting a ticket. Our governments are addicted to this easy form of taxation. It is like a drug to them. We need more revenue, and look how much we are bring in with three cameras-lets make it six-then eight-then they will be on every busy corner. We need an law banning them in Washington State Now!! P.S. No I have not got a ticket-Yet

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    • Greg Fox says:

      I’d like to see these studies. It is more often the opposite-if you know big brother is watching then you slow down and do the right thing-stop at a red light (will wonders never cease and yellow doesn’t mean-shoot it sucker, we can make it).
      Palm Springs, Ca and Scottsdale, Az are among many cities that have used cameras for many years with very very positive results. While Burien is no Palm Springs, it can use the cameras with the same effect.
      More cameras are needed and if more revenue is one of the perks (the first being less problems with traffic) then I, for one, say bring them on….

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      • JohnF says:

        Given that these cameras were presented to us as solutions to perceived safety issues, we should look for a study that examines the issue from that angle. Would a study published by the United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, be acceptable?


        The conclusion from that study is that the safety issue is pretty much a wash. While there is a decrease in right-hand collisions, there is a corresponding and offsetting increase in rear-end collisions.

        The only benefit cited by the study, then, is economic. While it may be tempting to look upon this issue and say that we should welcome this new, free source of revenue, I would ask you if you really want to be thought of in the same class as cities and towns whose primary source of revenue is the cop hiding behind the billboard pulling people over 10 feet after they pass the speed limit sign hidden behind the bush.

        Safety is one thing. Pure greed is another.

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      • Seahurst Camera Shy says:

        “if you know big brother is watching” I don’t want big brother watching.

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  4. Rob says:

    Maybe they should put up a couple in Downtown Burien- Catching people running crosswalks and other folks jay walking- since these are saving so much time for the police who can’t be bothered to patrol 152nd

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  5. Patricia says:

    When I worked downtown you had to wait when the walk light appeared so the red light runners could do their thing first. Some people seem to think they are above the law and do not have to stop for red lights because their time is more important. Sort of like the folks who blab on the phone all the time and can’t be bothered to signal when they make a turn, Come on and join civilized humans and get over it! If you can’t stop for a red light you are part of the problem and thats why it pays for cities to install them .Maybe Burien will not make so much money because drivers will actually stop for a stop light WHAT A CONCEPT.

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  6. Dale says:

    I assume that the city can program the red/yellow/green signals, the equations for how much of your car is on the intersection for a ticket, the other lights before and after intersection…to maximize the amount of buck$ collected. But shouldn’t get too greedy because you will discourage taxpayers coming to the city to buy a Condo, shop, eat…

    Guess the city should hire a Systems Engineer. Probably lots of them looking for work now that Boeing has almost finished designing the 787 and 747-8. Even cheaper might be some students from Highline High School.

    Not easy being a City Mother or Father having to make all these tradeoffs. Maximizing their power and how much money they can spend on what people *need* rather than what they *want.”

    Who is John Galt?

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  7. Barnet says:

    Chicago has the dubious title of red light ticket camera capital of the US. Not proud of that but the benefit is after many years field research and study I would be happy to share the information for the sake of safety.
    The discussion on this web site has been about money. If your ordinance is anything like Chicago many Constitutional protections are ignored. I will submit certain paragraphs in multiple posts so as to not overload. See motorists.org

    One of the reasons Chicago pulls in over $48M per year is because most of the yellow light durations are three seconds or under with rare exception. People drive towards intersections with their foot poised over their collective brake pedals.

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  8. Barnet says:

    For evidence of Chicago’s short yellows Google “MrBFagel”

    Having amassed a comprehensive library of Red Light Camera material, performed traffic safety research field studies and their effect for over 3 years, please read some results of this endeavor I present some of my observations. Also see motorists.org

    (1) Most State physical driving exams do not test a driver’s ability to precisely position a vehicle’s front tires at the white stop line. The camera’s unflinching pinpoint accuracy to within inches establishes a much higher degree of vehicle positioning. This degree of accuracy is not tested during a physical driving test. Video instant replay is not part of driving school routines or testing program, they usually employ human driving examiners.

    (2) Red light camera video evidence may be interpreted differently according to local jurisdictional POLICIES established by each city’s perceived standards interpretation. This also may be influenced by 3rd party camera vendors’ own standards.

    (3) Law on this subject provides tolerance for equipment faults or errors, the cameras are never wrong!

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  9. Barnet says:

    (4) The law also attempts to invalidate our U.S. Constitutional rights to due process of law, self-incrimination, right of the accused to face their accuser, be considered innocent UNTIL proven guilty and the right to quantify accusatory evidence (see Melendez Diaz v Massachusetts 6/2009) and let’s not forget taxation without representation.

    (5) These cameras are not required to meet any government criteria or standards. When you buy a pound of hamburger, buy a gallon of gas or take a cab ride all these transactions are regulated by certified instruments, why not the RED LIGHT TICKET CAMERAS?

    (6) When the public travels via escalator, elevator, passenger car, airplane, bus, ocean liner, etc. there is a natural public expectation these conveyances operate in a safe manner. Numerous government inspection laws and safety regulations were enacted to preserve the citizen’s rights to safe travel. To date, no government entity has established a single camera enforcement standard to protect motorists and pedestrians from malfunctioning cameras. Enforcement cameras around the country continue to malfunction, be improperly engineered, installed inadequately, poorly maintained while issuing millions in citation revenue. Many communities have reduced landscaping budgets while tree and vegetation growth goes untrimmed while cameras continue issuing invalid red light citations. Only the adept legal observer would notice the subtle change to the video evidence. Defendant camera vendors continue to exculpate themselves or limit liability for deaths is outrageous and unconscionable. This is why the State of Illinois among others requires a release of liability before issuing a camera enforcement permit.

    See Motorists.org. 
    Georgia residents can be proud of their additional yellow time law that promotes safety and reduces third party incentive-driven law enforcement.
    BTW, Illinois law for stopping does not specify any degree of time, it says that stop means a complete cessation of all forward movement, but due to the camera’s low frame per second rate a short time may not be recorded.

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  10. Rainycity says:

    Why is this under the crime section instead of the business section??

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  11. Andrew says:

    I want everyone to be aware that the vast majority of tickets are due to harmless rolling right turns and not what people typically think of as running a red light.

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  12. D. James says:

    The Red Light Cameras are about revenue! Even if they violate Washington State Law, as do the cameras at 1st Ave South & 160th St. Washington State law specifically states they are to ONLY be used where TWO ARTERIALS Intersect!!! The Intersection at 1st and160th is at the least a 5-Way if not a 6-Way intersection. See City of Seattle, Judge Francis DeVilla’s decision about throwing all the Red Light tickets out in intersections that are not in compliance with state law.

    Burien often does not do their homework and selectively enforces their own codes and those of the county. Nothing. new.

    The class action suit will catch up with Burien and they will have to refund all the fines from at least that intersection. Let’s see how they budget for that???


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