Two days after the Assembly passed legislation to expand the number of speed cameras in New York City from 20 to 140, the Senate followed suit this afternoon in a 49-11 vote. Since Governor Cuomo has signaled support for the bill, it is almost certainly bound to become law. The main question is whether a superfluous amendment from Senator Marty Golden will make it into the final version.
The bill keeps tight restrictions on where and when the cameras can be used: They are limited to streets with a school entrance or exit within a quarter-mile, and can only be used during school hours. To placate Golden, the Senate added an amendment that would restrict revenue raised by the cameras to police, fire, and school zone safety initiatives. With the amendment attached, Golden voted for the bill.
According to Newsday, the sudden move to advance the legislation came because Nassau County’s financial plan relied in part on the cameras.
At a press conference outside City Hall this afternoon, I asked City Council members how they respond to speed camera opponents who call them mere revenue-raisers, despite their proven safety benefits. Former transportation committee chair James Vacca took the microphone to put things in perspective.
“If there’s any State Senator that thinks we want cameras at red lights, or speeding cameras, because we are going to use it as a revenue producer, I think they should think again,” he said, noting that revenue falls as drivers get tickets and learn to stop driving recklessly. “This has nothing to do with revenue. We want people to slow down their cars.”
The de Blasio administration would like to secure home rule over automated enforcement, and the City Council Transportation Committee is considering a resolution this afternoon in support of that request. We’ll have more coverage of today’s hearing at City Hall later today.
This post has been updated to reflect the latest vote tally, initially reported in the Senate as 51-9.