After Allowing an Unlimited Number of Uber & Lyft Vehicles in the City, Mayor Bowser Says She Wants to Unclog City Streets During State of the District Address

by Sean Riley


On Monday evening, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered her annual “State of the District Address,” marking the first time she has done so during her second term. She sailed to re-election last year without confronting a serious challenger in the 2018 Democratic primary.

In a speech that ran less than an hour, Bowser touched on matters ranging from her recent visit to the White House and the 2020 presidential race to schools and D.C.’s financial well-being. (You can read her remarks, as prepared, here.)

At a few points during the mayor’s speech, activists shouted “stop the war on the poor” and “this is our home,” causing Bowser to pause temporarily. Authorities removed some of the activists from the venue, the Theater of the Arts at the University of the District of Columbia.[MORE]

With regard to transportation issues the Mayor insisted that getting DC residents to ride the Metro is essential and strengthening Metro remains a priority for the mayor. “As much as we love the Circulator, Streetcar, and Capital Bikeshare, we also know that they are no replacement for Metro,” Bowser said.

She called, as she has done recently, for a commitment from the transit agency to return to late-night service, and also warned against Metro “becom[ing] a system that only caters to white-collar workers commuting from the suburbs.” “We’re not going to replace Metro with Uber and Lyft,” Bowser said, “because we can’t move our region forward by further clogging our roads.” Metro is currently planning to offer subsidies to ride-hailing and taxi companies that could give late-night rides to workers.

Such comments are hypocritical upon consideration that her administration has allowed an unlimited number of Uber vehicles in the City. While DFHV has over-regulated the locally owned, small business taxicab companies, the City has placed no limits on the quantity of private vehicle for hire vehicles allowed to operate on DC streets. While there are only an estimated 5,500 taxicabs in DC, according to the latest DFHV newsletter, there are at least 178,000 Uber and Lyft vehicles clogging the streets.

Other major cities such NYC and San Francisco have sought to stop unconstrained growth in traffic caused by Uber and Lyft by limiting the number of vehicles allowed to operate. Studies have shown that such limitless growth worsens gridlock and causes a rise in emissions unhealthy to the environment. [MORE]

Bowser also announced that from now on, the red D.C. Circulator buses will remain free, as they have been since February. The mayor said in recent weeks, workers had waylaid her to praise the free bus service. “We may not think about it, because it’s just $1 each way, $2 a day, but for a working person it adds up,” Bowser noted.

She also said the city would invest $122 million in a new transit way on K Street NW, one of its primary east-west routes, to “ensure that buses, bikes, and cars can safely share the road and move through downtown D.C.” She did not mention a possible K Street extension of the D.C. Streetcar, which would link H Street NE and Union Station to Georgetown. [MORE]

She mentioned nothing about her administration’s failure to address the City’s widespread pothole problems. Pothole complaints to the city are about three times higher now than they were last year.


Gov. Hogan Slams the Federal Government for the Large Potholes Along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway

by Sean Riley


Patch & WTOP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has seen the reports about the alarming condition of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and he slammed the federal government this week for the situation, according to a report.

Hogan told FOX 5 that though the park service does well with parks, it does a “terrible job” of maintaining the B.W. Parkway, which has seen no substantive efforts to repair the cratered road surface because, as the Park Service said last week, “financial needs far outweigh available funding.”

“We want to improve the capacity all the way from Washington to Baltimore so that our taxpayers can get to and from work,” Hogan told FOX 5. “It’s outrageous and unacceptable. I mean we have potholes practically swallowing cars. They had to lower the speed limit because it’s so dangerous, and yet they are not fixing it.”

NPS says they have a five-year annual funding gap of around $50 million, according to the report.

NPS told Fox 5 in a statement it would attempt to repave a section of the BW Parkway near the Prince George's County border this fall.


The recent controversy surrounding the poor condition of the southbound lanes of the B.W. Parkway south of Maryland Route 32 could serve as fuel for Hogan’s push to transfer control of the 32.5-mile parkway from the park service to the state.

In 2017, Hogan proposed new express toll lanes on the parkway, a move that would require the U.S. Interior Department to transfer the land to the state.

Veteran WTOP Traffic reporter Bob Marbourg said that solution may not necessarily be the cure-all.

“The state of Maryland already has a long list of projects, so taking on the B.W. Parkway is unlikely to benefit the state or the commuters,” Marbourg said.

Marbourg also recalled that in recent years, the park service paved the B.W. Parkway between Greenbelt, Maryland and the Patuxent River north of Route 197. However, the repaving stopped when the available funding did.

Earlier in the week, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said the $11.9 billion nationwide backlog of National Park Service maintenance for roads and other needs shows the need for a nationwide solution.

“The longer we wait, the worse this backlog becomes,” Warner said in a statement.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., called the conditions on the B.W. Parkway “unacceptable” when he wrote National Park Service acting Director Dan Smith on Friday, and asked for faster fixes than the full construction slated to begin in late summer.

“It is an unsafe situation that needs to be remedied immediately through expedited action by the National Park Service and its federal partners,” Van Hollen wrote.

Hogan has already suggested tolls along the B.W. Parkway. With tolls, the park service could generate enough money to fix the backlog of repairs on the George Washington Parkway, Suitland Parkway and B.W. Parkway within 15 years, according to a recent Pew report.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., called the conditions on the B.W. Parkway “unacceptable” when he wrote National Park Service acting Director Dan Smith on Friday, and asked for faster fixes than the full construction slated to begin in late summer.

“It is an unsafe situation that needs to be remedied immediately through expedited action by the National Park Service and its federal partners,” Van Hollen wrote.

Hogan has already suggested tolls along the B.W. Parkway. With tolls, the park service could generate enough money to fix the backlog of repairs on the George Washington Parkway, Suitland Parkway and B.W. Parkway within 15 years, according to a recent Pew report.


Baltimore & DC Rank in the Top Three Among Major Cities Collecting the Most Revenue Per Capita from Parking Tickets

by Sean Riley


According to TopView, the top 10 major U.S. cities with the highest parking ticket revenues per capita are:

  1. Baltimore, Maryland — $100.87 per capita ($61,695,948 in total)

  2. San Francisco, California — $98.80 per capita ($68,200,000 in total)

  3. Washington, D.C. — $98.27 per capita ($68,200,000 in total)

  4. Chicago, Illinois — $97.20 per capita ($264,000,000 in total)

  5. Boston, Massachusetts — $83.37 per capita ($57,800,000 in total)

  6. New York, New York — $63.20 per capita ($545,000,000 in total)

  7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — $45.70 per capita ($72,279,047 in total)

  8. Denver, Colorado — $38.98 per capita ($27,466,003 in total)

  9. Los Angeles, California — $37 per capita ($148,000,000 in total)

  10. Seattle, Washington — $28.66 per capita ($20,773,136 in total)


9 Stop Sign Cameras in DC Have Issued More than 53,000 Tickets this Fiscal Year, $2.6 million in Fines

by Sean Riley


Fox5

Stop-sign cameras in the nation’s capital have issued more than 53,000 citations to drivers for a total of $2.6 million in fines this fiscal year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The cameras in D.C. are used to capture drivers who roll through or fail to come to a complete stop signs at nine intersections. The fine for this violation is $50.

The District first deployed stop-sign cameras in Aug. 2013 and became the first major city in the country to do so.

The amount of tickets and fines issued in 2018 is a dramatic increase compared to five years ago. AAA Mid-Atlantic says the stop-sign cameras only caught 6,863 drivers while collecting only $288,461 in revenue from the fines during the first phase of deployment.

The city’s Chief Financial Officer cited delayed implementation and glitches for the low number of citations and revenue during the first few years after the stop-sign cameras were deployed.

"Although such violations are far too common, stop sign-running incidents can prove fatal in intersections with stop signs in place, especially when one driver, or more, fail to obey a traffic control device," said John Townsend II of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Stop means stop! Yet, 'two-thirds of stop sign crashes occurred when drivers actually stopped for the sign, but failed to yield to oncoming traffic.' Drivers can miss seeing stop signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles for a host of reasons, including distractions, pitch darkness, diminished traffic sign conspicuity, glare, or trees. To save lives and avoid tickets, simply observe the 'three-second rule' or 'two-second rule' at all stop signs."

Townsend says drivers should follow a two to three-second rule when they encounter these cameras and make sure to completely stop at the intersection for that length of time before moving on.

Here are the current stop-sign camera locations in D.C.:

  • Fessenden St. (eastbound) at 44th Street, NW

  • Kansas Avenue (northeast-bound) at Buchanan Street, NW

  • Longfellow Street (westbound) at Missouri Avenue, NW

  • Blagden Avenue (northeast-bound) at Allison Street, NW

  • Fort Lincoln Drive (southbound) at 31st Place, NE

  • 10th Street (northbound) at Girard Street, NE

  • North Capitol Street (southwest-bound) at Chillum Place, NE

  • 27th Street (northbound) at R Street, SE

  • Bruce Place (eastbound) at 15th Place, SE


Out-of-state Drivers Owe Maryland $102 Million in Tolls & State Wants to Hire an Outside Debt Collection Agency to Collect the Unpaid Fines

by Sean Riley


MarylandReporter

Out-of-state drivers have racked up $102 million in unpaid video tolls and fines in Maryland, and lawmakers pushing a bill through the General Assembly want them to pay up.

HB105, debated in the House of Delegates Wednesday, would enable the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) to hire an outside debt collection agency to collect the unpaid bills and associated penalties. The agency requested the bill, which would take effect June 1.

The change could mean a $20 million increase in revenue in fiscal 2020.

“These are people coming into Maryland and using our roads and not paying for them,” said the bill’s floor leader Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, who chairs the Motor Vehicles and Transportation Subcommittee.

Fraser-Hidalgo said he was “shocked” when he learned the amount of toll debt owed to Maryland by out-of-state drivers.

According to the bill’s analysis,  MDTA estimates that about 576,000 out-of-state drivers owe MDTA outstanding tolls and civil penalties totaling $102 million.

“Some violators have $20,000” in unpaid tolls and fines, said Fraser-Hidalgo. He said the largest group of offenders are from Virginia.

Currently, the state’s Central Collection Unit (CCU) under the Department of Budget and Management is responsible for going after that money, but on average, the CCU is only able to collect about $1.3 million in tolls and penalties annually from out-of-state drivers.

“Their ability to collect this debt is very, very limited,” said Fraser-Hidalgo in the floor debate. For in-state drivers, MDTA has tools such as not renewing or suspending vehicle registration, but Maryland can’t do that with a driver from Pennsylvania, for example.

Concerns about Beltway tolls

Del. Alfred Carr Jr., also a Democrat from Montgomery County, tried Wednesday to “special order” or hold over the bill for another day, but his motion, as well as his amendment to “sunset” the bill after seven months, failed.

Carr said he was concerned that outsourcing the debt collection from the CCU to a private company would be “taking work away from Marylanders.”

In an interview afterward, Carr said  that money collected from the unpaid tolls and fines would be a “piggybank” for the controversial managed toll lanes project, a public-private partnership under study that would add toll lanes on the Maryland side of the Capital Beltway, which runs through his district. High occupancy toll lanes have already been added to the Virginia side of the beltway.

“My constituents hate the (managed lanes) project,” he said. “I don’t want them (MDTA) to take a shortcut and get this windfall.”

He said adding private toll lanes on the beltway in Montgomery County would take land away from people’s backyards, schools, parks and hospitals.

“There’s not enough room to add lanes to the beltway,” Carr said.

Instead of passing the bill, he said Maryland should establish reciprocity agreements with neighboring states to collect unpaid tolls and fines.

“What they’re seeking with this bill conflicts with that,” he said.

Reciprocity

Fraser-Hidalgo said with reciprocity, Marylanders who fail to pay their tolls in neighboring states would be subject to the laws of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware, which are sometimes harsher than Maryland’s.

“Some of those states imprison people” for toll violations, he said.

Currently in Maryland, a motor vehicle incurs a video toll when the vehicle passes through an MDTA toll facility, such as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or the all-electronic Intercounty Connector, but does not pay the toll using cash or an E-ZPass. The registered owner has 30 days to pay the toll or face a $50 fine. The owner may pay the citation and penalty or contest the citation in District Court.

Under the bill’s fiscal summary, state revenue is estimated to increase by at least $18.5 million in fiscal year 2020 if the bill passes and, while no firm figures are listed, revenues are expected to “increase significantly in future fiscal years,” depending on the collection rate of the chosen debt collection company.

The bill analysis notes that MDTA is seeking a contract with a private collection company that

would essentially buy the state’s outstanding tolls up front, which would amount to about $20 million. The state would also get a percentage of the fines collected.

A final vote on the bill is expected later this week.


City Authorities at DPW and DFHV Accepted Bribes from Convicted Towing Contractor in Exchange for Towing and Impoundment Assignments

by Sean Riley


WashingtonPost

A city contractor in Washington has pleaded guilty to bribing public officials at two D.C. agencies, and prosecutors say the businessman interfered with a “wider corruption investigation,” according to recently unsealed court documents.

Emad Hajhassan, the owner of a D.C. tow truck business, was sentenced earlier this year to 16 months in prison for paying nearly $50,000 to city officials at the Department of Public Works and the D.C. Taxicab Commission (now the Department of For-Hire Vehicles) in exchange for towing and impoundment assignments for his company.

“The defendant corrupted two city agencies, interfered with rule-following business owners’ ability to compete fairly for city contracts, and undermined confidence in the integrity of city contracting,” federal prosecutors said in sentencing documents unsealed late last month.

After Hajhassan of Alexandria initially pleaded guilty in 2014, prosecutors said he paid off a third official with about $13,000 in cash to maintain an exclusive towing contract in violation of his plea agreement and to the detriment of a law enforcement investigation.

“He then lied to the FBI about that scheme, falsely claimed that his corruption was motivated by fear not greed, and inhibited the government from holding corrupt officials accountable for their crimes,” prosecutors said in the filing.

Hajhassan is listed in court records as the owner of Able Towing, on Adams Mill Road in Northwest, one of nearly two dozen private companies the city relied on at the time for towing jobs.

[D.C. taxi industry insiders sentenced in bribery scheme]

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who heads the council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, said Monday that bribery and corruption in the government and among government employees is “corrosive. It drains confidence, and I think that whenever it’s found, it should be prosecuted fully.”

Cheh, whose committee oversees the Department of Public Works, said she would wait for more details of the investigation — including whether indictments are filed against other District employees referenced in the Hajhassan case — before deciding whether her committee needs to hold a hearing into the potential for wider problems at the agency.

“The more airing out of this stuff, the better,” she said.

Officials at the Department of For-Hire Vehicles and the administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Public Works Director Chris Geldart said in a statement that “nothing is more important than the public’s trust. With this in mind, when a customer service representative in DPW’s parking enforcement division was observed behaving suspiciously back in 2014, DPW contacted the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General to investigate. As a result of the investigation, criminal charges were filed, and DPW dismissed the employee.”

Hajhassan’s attorneys did not immediately respond Monday to messages seeking comment.

[She was the tops at ordering tows in D.C. And she was on the take.]

In court filings, his lawyers asked for a sentence of probation and noted that his cooperation led to the conviction in 2016 of Vernita M. Greenfield, a D.C. government dispatcher who handled tow truck orders. Greenfield, who pleaded guilty to one count of federal bribery, was paid $200 to $500 in weekly installments for steering towing orders to Hajhassan’s company from 2011 through 2013, court documents stated.

Hajhassan’s lawyers said he separately got involved with a government supervisor who controlled several tow truck contracts within Public Works because he feared the consequences of not cooperating with the supervisor.

“Hajhassan believed that if he refused this supervisor’s requests that the supervisor would retaliate through either physical violence or financial damage to his business,” according to the court filings first reported Monday by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.

The documents do not name the supervisor or another official identified as a public vehicle inspector with the cab commission.

Hajhassan admitted in his plea deal to paying $400 in cash each month to the inspector to steer about 80 percent of assignments to tow and impound taxicabs that were in violation of city regulations.

Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 33 to 41 months for Hajhassan. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in January sentenced him to 16 months for each of two counts of bribing a public official, to be served concurrently.


D.C. Taxi Industry Insiders Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

by Sean Riley


WashingtonPost

A once-powerful figure in the D.C. taxi community was sentenced to more than three years in prison for dishing out more than $250,000 in bribes to obtain taxi licenses and influence city legislation that he hoped would benefit his business.

Before being sentenced to 41 months in prison, Yitbarek Syume, 53, of Silver Spring apologized to U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, saying he was “fully responsible and guilty” for his actions. Syume, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery and was the only defendant in the massive sting operation who was jailed after his arrest, will be credited for the 26 months he has served in the D.C. jail.

Syume’s lawyer, Thomas Abbenante, urged Friedman to sentence his client to time served, but the judge said prison time was appropriate because bribing officials is a serious offense that undermines the public’s confidence in government.

Friedman on Friday also sentenced two of Syume’s co-defendants to prison terms. Berhane Leghese, 49, of Arlington County was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, and Amanuel Ghirmazion, 56, of the District was ordered to serve eight months behind bars. Abdulaziz Kamus, 55, another member of the conspiracy who became a critical undercover FBI informant, was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in federal prison.

All four could have faced far stiffer terms but received credit for cooperating extensively with authorities.


Prosecutors said the men participated in a scam to bribe the chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission to obtain lucrative licenses to operate cab companies. Leon Swain, who was chairman of the commission at the time, reported the bribe attempts to authorities and soon became an undercover informant for the FBI, wearing a wire while collecting more than $250,000 in illegal payments.

Prosecutors have said that Syume, who owned a taxi repair business, was the ringleader of the scheme; Leghese and Ghirmazion primarily raised funds to finance the bribes.

The men also attempted to limit the number of such licenses issued to increase the value of their investments. To achieve that goal, they gave cash, gifts and trips to Ted Loza, chief of staff of D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) in the hopes of influencing legislation that would impose a moratorium on taxi licenses. Such a bill was enacted in 2008. Graham has denied any involvement in the scheme and has not been charged with a crime. Loza pleaded guilty last year to accepting $1,500 in gratuities and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

The four men sentenced this week were the last major figures to face punishment in an investigation dubbed “Cash Cab” by federal authorities.

Twenty-two of 36 men, all accused of participating in a scheme with Syume to funnel $90,000 to Swain for licenses to operate taxis, have pleaded guilty to minor charges; all have been sentenced to probation.

On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Crabb said he was pleased by the sentences, calling the prison terms “just and appropriate.”


Uber To Pay Drivers $20 Million Settlement

by Sean Riley


LCT

Uber will pay $20 million to its drivers in California and Massachusetts to settle a class-action lawsuit that raised the question of what responsibility the company has to its workers.

Lawyers for Uber said in a court filing March 12 that they had agreed to a settlement with thousands of drivers. U.S. District Judge Edward Chen is set to hear the two sides’ motion on the preliminary settlement on March 21 in his San Francisco courtroom. Ultimately he will decide whether the settlement can go forward.

While the deal won’t end the longstanding and thorny question of whether Uber’s drivers are employees or contractors, the settlement likely will resolve the lawsuit that has forcefully pushed this question into court.

NBC News article here


Oklahoma Senate Near Unanimous In Banning Red Light Cameras

by Sean Riley


TheNewspaper

The Okalahoma Senate voted 46 to 1 last week to ensure red light cameras will never make an appearance on Oklahoma roads. The legislation authored by state Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Bow) and Representative Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia) would block any government entity from using intersection cameras in the future.

"No state, county, municipal or political subdivision may contract with any private corporation to provide for the use of any photo monitoring device to detect any red light violation," Senate Bill 260 states.

The measure does not address speed cameras, which are also not used in Oklahoma, despite a claim to the contrary from the state Department of Transportation (view report in a 600k PDF file). Last year, an employee of the city of Enid, population 50,000, became confused and told the state's researchers that a speed camera was in fact being used.

"Only in one case did the jurisdiction deploy any type of automated device and it was a speed enforcement camera system rather than a red-light system," the Oklahoma Department of Transportation claimed. "The Enid Police Department (Enid PD) currently uses this system and it is owned by the jurisdiction and Enid PD does not follow the operational guidelines put forth by DOT."

It turns out, the report was based entirely on a misunderstanding.

"The Enid Police Department does not have a speed camera program or any such devices in service," Enid police captain Tim Jacobi told TheNewspaper in an email. "We have two speed indicator signs that radar oncoming traffic and display the approach speed on a large lighted display. These are similar to what you may encounter as a warning to slow down when entering a construction area. We use our signs to act a deterrent in neighborhoods and other areas in which we receive speeding complaints from citizens."

The warning signs do not issue tickets. If the Oklahoma House and Governor Kevin Stitt (R) join the Senate in endorsing SB260, the red light camera ban would take effect November 1 and Oklahoma would join the growing number of states that have banned red light or speed cameras. Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin have effective statutory bans on automated ticketing machines (view laws). In Alaska, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska various judicial rulings have kept cameras out.

A copy of the bill is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.

Source:  Senate Bill 260 (Oklahoma Legislature, 3/6/2019)


Maryland Auditor Again Slams Statewide Speed Camera Program

by Sean Riley


TheNewspaper

Maryland's statewide speed camera program has fallen once again into the crosshairs of government auditors. The General Assembly's Office of Legislative Audits last week released the result of its examination of the books for the highly profitable state's highway "work zone" speed camera program. Auditors for a second time found significant problems in the $28,550,756 deal it struck with the for-profit company that operates every aspect of the photo ticketing program.

In 2012, the auditor found the state essentially rigged the contract bidding process to ensure the highly connected photo ticketing firm ACS, which was acquired by Xerox and is now operating as Conduent, would land the contract (read 2012 audit report). The review of the new contract signed in 2015 revealed that the State Highway Administration has been letting Conduent do whatever it pleased without any oversight.

"SHA did not adequately monitor the Maryland SafeZones program vendor to ensure that the program was properly administered in compliance with all contract requirements," the audit report explained. "The contract contains certain vendor requirements, most of which are intended to ensure program compliance in accordance with state law and are necessary for the valid issuance of a citation when a speeding violation is detected."

For example, the law requires the use of warning signs with the speed cameras. Conduent was supposed to document its compliance daily at each ticketing location. The State Highway Administration never bothered reviewing these documents, and on-site inspections were not systematic. The state also failed to verify whether the speed camera van drivers had points on their license. Conduent failed to perform the regular checks it had promised to do, verifying compliance for only one out of three drivers.

The deal with Conduent expires at the end of 2020, but it can be extended for another two years bringing the company a grand total of $40,313,728 in revenue. The state selected Conduent over two other vendors, Brekford and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia, even though they would have charged $6 million less. In justifying the contract award decisions, officials pointed to the superior understanding of the contract requirements and the law demonstrated by Conduent.

The review covered State Highway Administration functions between August 7, 2014, and June 30, 2017, and was conducted to assist lawmakers in their oversight of the agency. In its response to the auditors, the State Highway Administration accepted all of the recommendations, and promised to conduct more inspections of the speed camera vendors. The agency also agreed to conduct full background checks on speed camera van drivers. From January 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017 Conduent issued 354,000 tickets worth $14.2 million.

A copy of the audit is available in a 400k PDF file at the source link below.

Source:  Audit Report - State Highway Administration (Maryland Office of Legislative Audits, 1/30/2019)


A Study of U.S. Census Data by Bloomberg Shows the DMV Area Has the Most Expensive Work Commutes in the Nation

by Sean Riley


OurCommunityNow

When you think about long and pricey commutes, you probably think of New York City or Los Angeles. You’re not wrong. These cities do have long commutes, but workers in the Washington, D.C., area have actually taken the top spot. A study of U.S. census data by Bloomberg showed that workers from cities in Maryland and Virginia have the most expensive commutes in the nation.

The cost was calculated by figuring time spent in the car divided by the average income. It also factored in an “opportunity cost,” the time and experiences lost out on because of that commute. Workers that commute early in the morning or late into the evening spend less time with family and friends and miss out on activities like going to the gym or attending special events.

The worst of the worst, coming in at No. 1, is the commute from Charles County, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. These workers spent an average of two and a half weeks of 2017 just driving to and from work.

Commuters driving into D.C. from Fauquier and Stafford counties in Virginia came in as having the No. 2 and No. 3 worst commutes, respectively. In fact, out of the top 20  most expensive commutes, DMV counties took up 10 spots: Calvert County, MD (No. 5), Prince William County, VA (No. 6), Spotsylvania County, Virginia (No. 7), Frederick County, MD (No. 8), Carroll County, MD (No. 9), Loudoun County, VA (No. 14), and Prince George’s County, MD (No. 15). 


Va. House, Senate Endorse the Use of Handheld Speed Cameras by Police Officers while in Highway Work Zones

by Sean Riley


WTOP

Speed cameras are set to launch in Virginia for the first time — if only in limited form — under legislation approved by both chambers of the state General Assembly.

The final version of the legislation headed for Gov. Ralph Northam‘s desk only allows for handheld speed cameras used by police officers while in highway work zones. The officer’s vehicle must have its blue flashing lights activated and there must be a warning sign of the speed camera use placed within 1,000 feet of the work zone.

Similar to speed cameras in Maryland and D.C., tickets would be sent by mail and would be punishable only by fines of up to $125. Tickets would only be sent to drivers clocked at least 12 miles an hour over the speed limit.

While the Senate had passed a similar bill in the past, the issue has taken on new urgency due to fatal work zone crashes across Virginia.

If Gov. Northam signs the bill into law, the money collected from the fines would go toward the Virginia State police budget.

Speeding is creating separate safety issues outside of work zones, contributing to numerous other deadly crashes.

A recent study of speed camera corridors in Maryland and D.C. found cameras significantly cut the number of drivers going more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit. Past studies identified other measurable safety improvements, including a significant reductionin the number of injuries in the event of a crash.

Any future expansion of speed cameras in Virginia — either to include more permanent cameras or cameras in areas other than work zones — would require General Assembly action in coming years.

The General Assembly is also moving forward with a complete ban on cellphone use while driving. In the state Senate, there is a bill that would both make it illegal for drivers to use a bike lane to pass a car and make it easier to convict drivers who run over people walking or biking.

The General Assembly session is scheduled to end Feb. 23.


DC parking ticket, towing revenue on the decline

by Sean Riley


WTOP

Parking ticket and towing revenue collected through the Department of Public Works is on the decline in D.C., continuing a trend of fewer tickets going back about a decade.

While the District collected about $75 million in parking tickets and towing fees in the 2016 and 2017 budget years, that dropped to $69.4 million in the 2018 budget year ending Sept. 30.

In the first four months of the current budget year, from Oct. 1, 2018 to Jan. 30, 2019, the city has collected $21 million in parking tickets and fees, which would set a pace for another decline this fiscal year.

Parking tickets make up by far the largest part of that revenue, according to responses to oversight questions from the D.C. Council.

So far this budget year, DPW has issued 389,009 parking-related tickets. In each of the full 2017 and 2018 budget years, the department issued more than 1.3 million tickets.

The DPW web portal on paying parking tickets had 79,379 page views from Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018 — second only to the page with the residential trash and recycling collection schedule.

DPW’s 244 parking enforcement officers and 6 booters enforce parking rules, while police are separately responsible for enforcing moving violations, such as speeding or running red lights. The moving violations are not included in this data.

The most common tickets are for failure to pay for parking or expired parking meters, followed by violations of residential parking rules or other parking signs.

Other common tickets include failure to have current license plates, warnings to out-of-state vehicles parked in the city overnight and violations of “No Standing Anytime” signs.

In past years, violation of parking rules for street cleaning have also been common tickets, but those tickets are more applicable over the spring and summer, when the rules are in effect across the city.

Some of the least-common tickets issued this year include one for a forged visitor parking pass, one for blocking a bus stop during rush hour, two for excessive idling and one for blocking one of D.C.’s few bus lanes.

DPW issued eight bus lane citations in the 2018 budget year and 21 in the 2017 budget year.

There have been 201 tickets written in the last few months for parking on the sidewalk, 181 for parking in a median, 155 for parking in a car share space, 61 for leaving a motor running unattended, 24 for failing to parallel park, and 15 for parking in electric vehicle spaces.

DPW issued 211 tickets for blocking the DC Streetcar and 11 for blocking a streetcar platform.

Still, in its responses to the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, DPW said it is addressing complaints about under-enforcement of parking in certain neighborhoods.

The department has officers assigned to geographic areas, but also responds to complaints about violations that are submitted by the public.

Some of those include regular complaints about cars and trucks stopped in bike lanes. The number of tickets for blocking bike lanes has been declining significantly though.

In the 2017 budget year, 3,218 citations were written for blocking bike lanes. That dropped to 1,723 in the 2018 budget year.

The number of cars booted in the District has declined significantly since 2017 when 9,292 cars had the punishment slapped on. In the last full budget year, 4,301 cars were booted. In the first few months of this budget year, 196 cars were booted.

See all the numbers.


DC Government Racked up $324 Million in Tickets Last Year

by Sean Riley


WTOP

Drivers on D.C. roads racked up $324 million in tickets last year, and Maryland drivers ended the year with the most money unpaid.

Between Sept. 30, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018, more than 1 million tickets were issued in the District through speed and red light cameras. About 33,000 of them were dismissed after a challenge.

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles processed a total of 2,719,600 citations in the 2018 budget for speed and red light camera tickets, moving violations and parking tickets, according to oversight responses provided to the D.C. Council ahead of a Thursday hearing.

That is a slight increase from the preceding year, when the value of processed citations was $306,712,186.

In the first four months of the current budget year — October through January — the DMV processed 901,881 citations worth $99,758,342.

Of that, $41,068,367 was collected before the tickets were sent to collections, where $9,548 have been collected. As of the end of January, $56,800,374 remained outstanding.

In the full year that ended Sept. 30, the department collected $156,072,848 before tickets were sent to collections where $35,174,148 was collected, but $139,281,885 remained unpaid.

Overall, D.C. residents had $28,615,543 in outstanding tickets from the 2018 fiscal year. Virginia residents owed $31,512,322. Maryland residents owed $59,662,386. People with cars registered in other states owed $19,491,634.

Maryland residents had, by far, the largest value of unpaid tickets in the previous budget year and again so far in the current budget year.

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The fines double for nearly half of all parking tickets, since fewer than 60 percent of drivers pay those tickets or challenge them within the first 30 days. About 85 percent of drivers pay or challenge the ticket within 60 days.

“DMV believes the current process is more than adequate for customers to be aware of receiving parking tickets,” the responses to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment said.

Drivers can sign up to get emails or texts when their cars gets tickets and when the car might be booted.

How to beat a ticket

In the last full budget year, 160,625 drivers challenged their tickets. At least 54,928, or about one in three, were successful. There were 75,371 cases still pending at the end of September.

The most common reason a ticket was dismissed was not due to an appeal, but because the District writes off any unpaid tickets that are more than 15 years old.

The most successful challenges on the merits of a ticket were the following:

Multiple vehicles were in a photo used to generate a camera ticket (12,585 last year);

  • The driver had a Parkmobile receipt to show he had paid for parking (7,253);

  • Residential overnight parking exemption documentation (3,767);

  • An officer did not appear to defend the ticket (3,184);

  • The image used for a photo enforcement ticket was poor (6,903).

The number of tickets successfully challenged with proof of parking payment appears to be rising this budget year, with 5,742 dismissed on those grounds in the first four months.

Thousands of tickets are written off each year because they are submitted for processing too late.

That does not include about 72,000 tickets that had adjudication requests pending for months until those requests were discovered floating in the ether in June and were only then added to hearing dockets.

The city is currently reviewing whether parking ticket adjudication should remain a responsibility of the Department of Motor Vehicles, with a report delayed until April due to “stalled agency discussions.”

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At the same time, the city is considering upgrades to its 24-year-old ticket administration system and similar upgrades to its 17-year-old driver’s license record system.

Here’s a look at parking citations for 2017, 2018 and through the end of January 2019. (Courtesy D.C. government)

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DC Restores Driving Privileges for More than 65000 People

by Sean Riley


DCist and WashingtonPost

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has reinstated nearly 66,000 people’s licenses, after previously revoking them for failing to pay certain traffic fines or failing to show up in court for a moving violation, according to a DMV report released earlier this month. The reinstatements come as the result of a new law which prevents the District from suspending licenses for failure to pay fines.

The Washington Post was the first to cover the DMV’s new report and the number of District residents who have licenses again.

“On October 30, 2018, DMV’s licensing system was programmed to no longer suspend driver licenses (D.C. resident) or driving privileges (non-D.C. resident) due to failure to pay a moving violation, failure to pay a moving violation after being found liable at a hearing, and failure to appear for a hearing on a moving violation” as a result of the new law, the report reads. “Additionally, on November 30, 2018, DMV’s licensing system was programmed to reinstate all currently suspended driver licenses and driving privileges due to previous three criteria. After the reinstatements, letters were sent out to the impacted individuals.”

A total of 65,922 people had their licenses or driving privileges reinstated in November 2018, according to the report. Of those, 15,521 were D.C. residents, while 54,401 were non-D.C. residents.

The DMV has notified people whose licenses were reinstated by letter, the report says. But only 14,324 letters actually got sent, because so many of the suspensions were decades old. The DMV isn’t tracking returned mail on the notification letters it sent out, the report says.

The city still suspends some licenses due to unpaid fines—according to the report, 2,282 people have their licenses suspended as a result of “unpaid judgment[s] from D.C. Superior Court.” But yet another law, signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in January, has prohibited that, too.

When the new law takes effect (which should happen in mid-to-late March, according to the report), the DMV ” will program our licensing system to no longer allow employees to enter judgments for suspensions, and we update DMV’s website to indicate judgments no longer result in suspensions.”

The Washington Post last year found that seven million people across the country have had their licenses revoked because of court debt. Advocacy organizations hold that suspending licenses for unpaid fees traps people in a cycle of poverty and adversely impacts those who can’t afford to pay tickets. The Fines and Fees Justice Center, which advocates eliminating license suspension for unpaid fines, says that the practice leaves people “stuck in a cycle of punishment and poverty, [in which] people can lose their jobs, their homes, and even their children.”


MIT Study Says Uber Drivers Earn a Median Profit of $3.37 per hour & 74% of drivers Make Less than Minimum Wage

by Sean Riley


TechCrunch

Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are delivering pitiful levels of take-home pay to the hundreds of thousands of US independent contractors providing their own vehicles and driving skills to deliver the core service, according to an MIT CEEPR study examining the economics of the two app platforms.

The report catalyses the debate about conditions for workers on gig economy platforms, and raises serious questions about the wider societal impacts of tax avoiding, VC-funded tech giants.

The study, entitled The Economics of Ride-Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes, and which was carried out by the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, surveyed more than 1,100 Uber and Lyft ride-hailing drivers combined with detailed vehicle cost information — factoring in costs such as fuel, insurance, maintenance and repairs — to come up with a median profit per hour worked.

The upshot? The researchers found profit from ride-hail driving to be “very low”. On an hourly basis, the median profit was $3.37 per hour, with 74% of drivers earning less than the minimum wage in the state where they operate.

They also found a median driver generates $0.59 per mile of driving but incurs costs of $0.30 per mile; and almost a third (30 per cent) of drivers were found to incur expenses exceeding their revenue or to be losing money for every mile they drive.

The research also looked at how ride-hailing profits are taxed, and suggests that in the US a majority of driver profits are going untaxed owing to how mileage deduction is handled for tax purposes — suggesting Uber and Lyft’s business are denuding the public purse too.

From the study:

On a monthly basis, mean profit is $661/month (median $310). Drivers are eligible to use a Standard Mileage Deduction for tax purposes ($0.54/mile in 2016) which far exceeds median costs per mile of $0.30/mile. Because of this deduction, most ridehailing drivers are able to declare profits that are substantially lower. Mean drivers who use a Standard Mileage Deduction would declare taxable profit of $175 rather than the $661 earned. These numbers suggest that approximately 74% of driver profit is untaxed.

The authors add that if their $661/month mean profit is representative then the US’ Standard Mileage Deduction facilitates “several billion in untaxed income for hundreds of thousands of ride-hailing drivers nationwide”.

So what does the study tell us about the ride-hailing business model? “It tells us that it’s a shitty place to work,” says Mark Tluszcz, co-founder and CEO of Mangrove Capital Partners who has described the gig economy model as the modern day sweatshop, and says his VC firm made a conscious decision not to invest in gig economy companies because the model is exploitative.

“It tells you that it’s a great place if you’re a company. It’s really a poor place to be an employee or be a worker.”

The exploitative asymmetry of ride-hailing platforms comes because workers have a certain amount of fixed costs but the platform intermediary can just hike its commission at will and lower the service cost to the end user whenever it wants to increase competitiveness vs a rival business.

“At the end of the day there are a certain amount of fixed costs [for drivers],” says Tluszcz. “You have to buy a car, you have to get insurance, you have to pay for gas… And if you as an intermediary, which those platforms are, are taking an increasing amount of commission — 10%, 15%, now 20 in most of their markets — and then you’re using the price of the trip as a way of beating your competitor… then you as a driver are sitting there with basically all of your fixed costs and your income is going down and frankly the only way to cover your costs is to spend more hours in the car.

“Which is frankly what’s clearly illustrated by this study. These people have to spend so much time to cover their costs when you break it down to an hourly revenue, it’s a pitiful amount. And by the way you have no social coverage because you’ve got to take care of that yourself.”

At the time of writing neither Uber not Lyft had responded to a request for comment on the MIT study. But an Uber spokesperson told The Guardian the company believes the research methodology and findings are “deeply flawed”, adding: “We’ve reached out to the paper’s authors to share our concerns and suggest ways we might work together to refine their approach.”

Tluszcz was quick to dispatch that critique. “MIT is not some second tier organization that did this study,” he points out. “For me that’s a reference moment when MIT says look, there’s an issue here… There’s something wrong in the model and we can tolerate it for a period of time but ultimately we’re creating this lost generation of people.”

“These business are built on situations in the market that are not realistic,” he tells TechCrunch. “They took advantage of a hole in legislation… Governments let that happen. And it made all of sudden services cheaper. But people have to eat. People have to live. And ultimately there’s only 100% of a cake.

“Cabbies in the UK are not millionaires; they make a decent living. But they make a decent living because there’s a certain price-point to offer the service. And in every industry you have that. There is a certain fair price point to be able to live in that industry… And clearly right now, in the ride-sharing businesses, you don’t have it.”

In Europe, where Uber’s business has faced a series of legal challenges, the company has begun offering some subsidized insurance products for platform workers — including one for Uber Eats couriers across Europe and a personal injury and insurance product for drivers in the UK.

 

In January in the UK it also announced a safety cap on the number of consecutive hours drivers on its platform can accept trips, after coming under rising political and legal pressure on safety and working conditions.

Last year Uber also lost its first appeal against an employment tribunal that judged a group of Uber drivers to be workers, not self-employed contractors as it had claimed — meaning they are entitled to workers rights such as holiday and sick pay.

Uber also had its license to operate in London withdrawn last fall, with the local transport regulator citing concerns about safety and corporate responsibility as key considerations for not renewing the company’s private hire vehicle license.

Tluszcz’s view is that such moves prefigure a more major shift incoming in Europe that could cement permanent roadblocks to business models that function via intentional worker exploitation.

“The flaw in the [gig economy] model as a worker is so big that it seems to be quite clear that European governments are going to be looking at this and saying this is just not the European ethos. It’s just not,” he argues. “There’s going to be a moment when all these things are clashing. And I think it’s a cultural clash that we have really, between European values of equity and American values of just pure market capitalism.

“You can’t expect somebody making $3.37 an hour to take a part of that to contribute to retirement and social coverage. What the hell do you live on?” he adds.

“We’re creating the next lost generation of people who simply don’t have enough money to live and those companies are fundamentally enabling it under the premise that they’re offering a cheaper service to consumers… And I just don’t think Europe will put up with this.”

Last month the UK government confirmed its intent to act on this area by announcing a package of labor market reforms intended to respond to changes driven by the rise of gig economy platforms. It dubbed the strategy a ‘Good Work Plan’ — billing it as an expansion of workers rights and saying “millions” more workers would get new day-one rights, coupled with a tighter enforcement regime on platforms and companies to ensure they are providing sick and holiday pay rights.

“We are proud to have record levels of employment in this country but we must also ensure that workers’ rights are always upheld,” said the UK prime minister, also emphasizing that her goal was to build “an economy that works for everyone”.

It’s likely to publish more detail on the employment law reform later this year. But the direction of travel for gig economy platforms in Europe looks clear: Away from being freely able to exploit legal loopholes and towards a much more tightly managed framework of employment and workforce welfare regulations to ensure that underlying support structures (such as the UK’s national minimum wage) aren’t just being circumvented by clever engineering and legal positioning.

“This for me is an inherent dilemma one has between capitalism and some level of socialism which we have in Europe,” adds Tluszcz. “This is a clash of two fundamentally different views of the world and ultimately as a company you have to be a company that views your role in society as one of being a contributor — and tech companies can’t hide behind the fact; they must do the same.

“And unfortunately all these ride-sharing businesses, and including most of these gig economy companies, are just trying to take advantage of holes and frankly I don’t see them at all looking at their reason to be as at least having a component of ‘I’m good for the society in which I operate’. They don’t. They just simply don’t care.

“That’s a dilemma we have as consumers, because on the one hand we like the fact that it’s cheap. But we wish that people could all have a decent living.”

Whether US companies will be forced into a less exploitative relationship with their US workers remains to be seen.

Tluszcz’s view is that it will need some kind of government intervention for these types of companies to rethink how their models operate and who they are impacting.

“Tech companies frankly have an equal amount of responsibility to be great corporate citizens. And right now it feels — particularly because many of these tech companies are born in the US — it almost feels like this Americanism about them says I don’t have to be a good corporate citizen. I’m going to take advantage of the world for me and my shareholders,” he says.

“I’m a capitalist but I do think there’s some moral guidance you have to have about the business you’re building. And the US tech companies, around the world — certainly in Europe — are being highly criticized… Where is your moral compass? And unfortunately, today, sitting here, you have to say they lost it.


$100 Million in Speed Trap Revenue: Speed-camera tickets doubled last year in D.C., new data shows

by Sean Riley


The Washington Post

The District issued almost a million speed-camera tickets last year, according to data released Wednesday, cementing the city’s regional reputation as a “speed trap” for residents and visiting motorists alike.

The number of tickets — which led to $99.2 million in revenue for the city — was nearly double that issued the previous year, according to AAA’s Mid-Atlantic chapter, which obtained the figures through a public-records request to the District’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

The District’s citations also far exceeded those in neighboring jurisdictions, according to the data collected by AAA. The District issued 994,163 speed-camera tickets, compared to 529,993 in Montgomery County and 263,302 in Prince George’s County. Virginia is prevented by state law from using speed cameras.

A D.C. police spokeswoman said the department could not independently confirm AAA’s figures.

The dramatic increase could revive debate about the cameras, which have caused controversy in many cities across the country where they have been set up.

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In the District, being caught by a camera results in a ticket that can range from $50 to $300, depending on speed.

Research has shown that the presence of speed cameras leads to safer driving. But many motorists have mixed feelings about them, and some have argued that their true purpose is to serve as a cash cow for the governments that use them.

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II said the extraordinary number of tickets issued during the 2016 fiscal year suggested that the cameras were not deterring speeding and that they may be set up in a manner to “entrap and ensnare motorists as they come into the city.”

“What is astounding to us is the sheer number of tickets,” Townsend said. “Something is wrong when you’re issuing a million tickets a year.”

However, Townsend said he had no proof that the cameras had been set up with anything other than public safety in mind and said the purpose of AAA’s publication of the figures was merely to warn motorists that they should obey speed laws — especially in the District.

“This was more to let people know, and not to call for a policy change,” Townsend said.

Margarita Mikhaylova, a spokeswoman for D.C. police, said officials did not know what specific factors might be behind the sharp uptick in tickets but that “we would not be surprised that there was an increase given that MPD has improved a number of internal processes associated with our photo enforcement unit.”

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Miami Ends its Red-Light Camera Program: Unfair, Unsafe & Unnecessary

by Sean Riley


National Review

Starting next month, drivers in Miami will no longer have to hold their breath when passing under a yellow light, now that the city council has voted to end its red-light-camera program. In last year’s elections, Francis Suarez, the successful candidate for mayor, made a campaign promise to cancel the city’s 2010 contract with American Traffic Solutions, arguing that the cameras hurt residents with excessively high fines but didn’t make the roads any safer. Other localities would be wise to follow Miami’s lead and scrap their cameras. Red-light cameras are touted by their promoters –– predominantly camera manufacturers and law-enforcement agencies, which profit from them –– as a way to make America’s roads safer. For local officials, it sounds like a win-win: More money for the government and safer streets for everyone. But the data tell a different story: These cameras have actually led to an increase in motor-vehicle accidents in many cities, since drivers either speed up or slam on the brakes at yellow lights, hoping to avoid a ticket.

A 2016 report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles found that intersections with red-light cameras saw increases in nearly every type of accident in the years since the cameras were installed. Rear-end crashes went up 11.41 percent, angle crashes went up 6.42 percent, and crashes involving injuries went up 9.34 percent. Fatalities from accidents doubled. Similar trends can be seen across the nation. Cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., have all seen increases in crashes at intersections where red-light cameras have been installed. In Los Angeles, the number of accidents increased at 20 of the 32 camera-equipped intersections. Three other intersections saw accident numbers remain the same, and only nine saw a decrease.

Sometimes the cameras help reduce one type of accident but increase another. In Chicago, the city with the most red-light cameras, the cameras may have lowered the number of T-bone (broadside) collisions by 15 percent, but the number of injury-causing rear-end accidents went up by 22 percent. One could argue that T-bone collisions are often more dangerous than rear-end crashes, but the most recent data from Illinois’s Department of Transportation show an increase in traffic fatalities in Cook County, which contains Chicago, despite the ubiquity of these cameras.

Even though the perceived safety benefits have been disproven wherever these cameras have been tried, some in government defend them as revenue-raisers for cities strapped for cash. This line of thinking is perverse and backward. Cities shouldn’t be able to extort money out of a resident who passes under a light right as it turns from yellow to red. If the light in the other direction has yet to turn green, that driver is putting nobody in harm’s way. This is essentially another tax imposed by cities on their residents, and a highly unfair and regressive one. In Miami, officials expected to collect $10.5 million during the current fiscal year on citations from the cameras. Of that, $4.4 million would go to American Traffic Solutions and the rest to the city coffers. That money will vanish when the city and American Traffic Solutions end their contract. But, as Suarez put it on Twitter, “It is necessary to defend #Miami’s most vulnerable residents from continuing to be overburdened by these excessive fines.”

Cities should instead consider stationing law-enforcement officers near dangerous intersections and allow them the discretion to pull over those who are truly driving in a dangerous manner, instead of simply ticketing every driver who has the misfortune of passing under a light as it turns from yellow to red. If someone does run a red light and cause an accident, witnesses can corroborate the story and proper charges can be brought.

Some cities have gotten especially carried away with their revenue-raising ambitions. In Chicago, officials were caught speeding up yellow lights so they would turn red quicker than the city’s minimum of three seconds. That led to 77,000 additional tickets’ being written in 2014, creating $8 million in new revenue for the city. If it weren’t for inquiries from the Chicago Tribune and Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, citizens in the Windy City would have had no idea that this abuse was taking place.

The sketchy dealings of red-light-camera companies are not unique to Chicago. In Columbus, Ohio, the CEO of RedFlex, the city’s red-light-camera vendor, was charged with bribing city officials in exchange for a contract. Similar actions have reportedly taken place in 13 states throughout the U.S. If the goal of red-light cameras is to make roads safer, they’ve been a complete and utter failure. All these cameras are good for is extorting money out of drivers without making the streets any safer.


DC DMV computer glitch affects 70K tickets; erroneously sends nearly 2K to collections

by Sean Riley


WJLA.com

A major computer glitch has impacted 70,000 speed camera tickets issued to drivers.

Roughly 1,900 of the 70,000 tickets should have been dismissed, but the DC Department of Motor Vehicles sent 1,773 of the tickets to collections.

The following statement is attributed to a DMV spokesperson from January 23, 2018.

In June, our ticket processing vendor determined approximately 70,000 tickets submitted on-line for adjudication and suspended for mail adjudication were not properly processed. A recent programming change resulted in these tickets not being pushed to the workflow queues for hearing examiners to review and decide. Once the issue was discovered, these tickets were pushed to the hearing examiners’ queues to review and decide. DC DMV regulations require us to answer a Request for Reconsideration within 180 days or dismiss the ticket. The vendor identified the requests for reconsideration that were more than 180 days (approx 1,700), and they were administratively dismissed by DMV. A letter was sent to customers informing them of this legal requirement, the dismissal of the ticket and that they were not required to do anything further.