UPDATED: Gov. Cuomo Announces Doubling of Speed Cameras

Only this man can prevent overpoliced transit. Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit
Only this man can prevent overpoliced transit. Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit

ALBANY — Governor Cuomo said he would reinstate the speed camera program in New York City — and double the number of cameras — in his budget to be released on Tuesday.

From the governor’s just-issued press release:

Speed cameras have proven to be effective at reducing car crashes and increasing survivability rates in school zones, but in 2018 the Republican-led Senate blocked passage of legislation that would allow the program to continue. In response, Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency to temporarily reinstate the program. The Governor’s new budget proposal would reinstate and expand the program through statute and expand the number of impacted school zones from 140 to 290.

“There is indisputable evidence that speed cameras save lives, and as public servants we must use every available tool to protect our children,” Cuomo said, blasting the then-GOP controlled State Senate for failing to re-authorize the speed cameras last year and allowing the cameras to go dark.

Cuomo then used his emergency powers to turn the speed cameras back on.

The number of speed cameras — 290 — is the same number that appeared in the bill that the Senate rejected last year. It is far lower than the number that activists originally sought.

The existing 140 school-zone camera systems have issued tickets to more than 4.5 million drivers since being fully deployed in 2014 — roughly 10 times the number written by all of the city’s NYPD officers. Statistics show that only 17 percent of drivers get a second speed-camera ticket, evidence that they are a substantial deterrent to speeding. Cuomo’s proposal would also include signs to alert motorists that cameras are in place, presumably another form of deterrent.

Mayor de Blasio backed the governor’s proposal.

“The mayor appreciates the governor’s commitment to expand speed cameras,” spokesman Seth Stein told Streetsblog. “When a speed camera is activated, it reduces speeding in that area by over 60 percent. The program is a vital Vision Zero tool, and a strong contributor to the city’s five straight years of declining traffic deaths.”

That said, the City Council passed a bill last year to give the city the right to deploy an unlimited number of cameras. It is unclear if Speaker Corey Johnson will object to Cuomo’s 290-school zone limit. We reached out and have not heard back.

Story was updated to include a City Hall comment.