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Fremont Installs Red Light Cameras For Safety But Some Fear Revenue Is Driving Force

FREMONT (KPIX) -- The City of Fremont installed two additional red light cameras on Monday, that are expected to bring in more than $1.1 million in the first year and decrease the number of accidents. At least one resident believes it won't make the intersections safer.

"The city brags about transparency but that's just PR," said Suresh Bazaj. "The city is always looking for more revenue, nothing else matters."

The long-time Fremont resident spoke to KPIX in 2017 after he received a red light ticket and began digging for answers.

Bazaj wasn't the only one who started looking closer at the number of tickets that skyrocketed at the intersection of Mowry Avenue and Farwell Drive, as well as Mowry Avenue and Blacow Road where red light cameras had been installed.

Jim Lissner, a traffic camera activist, told KPIX during an investigation into what was going on that the yellow to red light transition had been shortened.

"That's the smoking gun," Lissner said back in 2017.

The city was forced to admit the yellow light had been shortened and refunded at least $490,000 to drivers.

On Monday, the city began to monitor drivers at the intersections of Auto Mall Pkwy. at Christy Street and Pacific Commons, which are near a busy shopping area. Warnings will be given until midnight March 30, according to a city press release.

The intersection of Auto Mall Pkwy. and Christy Street handles about 55,000 vehicles a day, according to the city.

The city reports that there were 183 accidents at the 10 intersections one year before red light cameras were installed. In 2019, after the red light cameras were installed at those locations, the city reported 69 accidents or a 62 percent drop.

But Bazaj insists the red light cameras are not the solution to making Fremont streets safer. Instead he argues, this is all about money for the city.

"If they are trying to reduce the accidents they should be designing the intersection properly," Bazaj said. "Like most residents, I trusted, I believed they would do the right thing and then when I got the ticket and started looking into it I realized they don't do the right thing."

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