Budget cuts in the Portland Bureau of Transportation could actually wind up as bad news for drivers too busy/entitled to stop for things like, oh, say, red lights.

Hoping to save $480,000 that it could use instead to blunt layoffs or invest in other traffic safety projects, PBOT wants to hand its 11-year-old red-light camera program over to the police bureau—which would then, presumably, expand it beyond the 10 intersections that already have them.

According to budget documents, the camera program, as currently constructed, hasn't been able to pay for itself. That's been a big reason why the program hasn't gotten much bigger over the years—which is too bad, according to the most recent city report on the camera program. The cameras appear to be working quite well.


But the finances have been challenging. Cash from red-light tickets accounts for only 69 percent of the funding needed to keep things running—with PBOT having to pay for the rest out of its overall operating budget. The thinking is the police bureau would be a better fit, since it already runs similar programs like photo-radar vans to catch speeders.

"The change in policy would allow the city to add red light cameras to other locations that have high numbers of crashes caused by red light running," explains Caryn Brooks, spokeswoman for Mayor Sam Adams' office, which oversees both bureaus. "We need to fully evaluate all the ramifications of cost and revenue, but if those things line up, the mayor is supportive of housing this program within the Portland Police Bureau."