There is frequently much ado in Edmonton about the photo radar program. Advocates tend to laud it's international reputation for lowering speeds. Car commuters posting on reddit -- and David Staples -- tend to call it a cash cow.
But, frequently, these discussions are devoid of facts and data. Since 2015, I have made annual FOIP requests to the program and I publish them here, to help fight against that. Let's jump right in and explore the data updated as of March, 2018.
First looking at the raw number of tickets, this allows us to answer a couple questions about the Photo Radar Program:
Does photo radar ticket for lower speeds than it used to?
Edmonton's photo radar program has never, and continues to never ticket for 1-5 km/h over the speed limit. That person complaining about getting a ticket for 3 over on the Henday is lying, and was probably driving closer to 20 over.
That said, the answer to the question is yes, the program does seem to be trending toward issuing lower-speed tickets. From 2014 on, the percentage of tickets issued for 6-10 over jumped by around 300% and appears to be holding at that rate. The number of tickets issued for 11-15 over jumped 62%, showing an overall trend of moving photo radar to lower-speed locations, or lowering the threshold for which tickets are typically issued.
2014 was also the year that Edmonton added school zones, and committed to 30% of its photo radar resources to dedicated school zone enforcement.
Does Edmonton issue more photo radar tickets now?
Yep. In 2007, a third-party contractor ran the photo radar program, with EPS providing oversight. In 2012, the City took ownership of the program, and begin issuing and sending out tickets without a third-party vendor. An audit committee report revealed that by 2012, the project to transition photo radar operations to the City was $47MM over budget. There was no impact to the tax levy, however, because the shortfall was made up with additional ticket revenue.
This correlates with the 160% increase in tickets issued in 2013. Whether this increase was designed to make up the shortfall or the city was simply more efficient at issuing tickets than the third-party contractor is subject to some debate.
Does Edmonton set up photo radar mostly on the Henday?
Nope. When breaking the numbers down by total enforcement hours, the Henday is only 11% of the enforcement resources.
In fact, the Henday, Yellowhead and Whitemud combined only equate to 21% of the enforcement hours of the program.
This case seems to hold in both the macro, and micro level. When I did a spot check in mid-2017, I found that more enforcement happens in school and playground zones than happens on all our city highways combined.
The top 5 spots for photo radar enforcement in 2017 were:
|83 St between Whyte Ave - 86 Ave||1,036 hours|
|Stony Plain Rd between 178 - 182 St||1,023 hours|
|Anthony Henday Dr. @ Ray Gibbon Dr||1,002 hours|
|Anthony Henday Dr at 97 St||993 hours|
|82 Ave between 89 - 87 St||973 hours|
If you'd like to see the full breakdown of every location and the time deployed there, I've made a CSV available here.
Has the number of tickets changed in 2017?
Incrementally. There was about 65,000 less tickets issued in 2017 as compared to 2016. The number of photo radar tickets issued is the lowest it has been since 2013, when the effects of the city takeover were becoming apparent, causing revenue to be down $3MM under what was expected. The other stats have remained relatively consistent.
One interesting change in 2017 is that the share of tickets issued for 6-10km/h over actually decreased 2 percentage points. While raw ticket numbers are down across the board, it very peculiar to see the share of those lower-speed tickets decrease. 2017 was the year that saw Jr. High School zones and playground zones have wide implementation across the city. One would have expected this large increase in lower-speed zones be reflected in a larger share of lower-speed tickets.
That will be something to watch for in 2018, after the playground zone implementation is entirely complete.