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Public workers caught running red lights 11,500 times

Published: Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 11:27 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO (MCT) — Public workers ran Chicago red lights more than 11,500 times in the past seven years, driving everything from CTA buses and garbage trucks to unmarked police cars and City Hall sedans, according to a Tribune examination of automated camera tickets.

In most cases when the $100 tickets came back to the city, officials say, the drivers were tracked down and made to pay the fines.

But in the case of the Chicago Transit Authority, the fare-paying public pays the tab. The agency has paid the city about $148,000 in red light fines since 2010, after the transit union challenged the agency practice of charging drivers directly.

Although bus drivers can face serious discipline for getting a red light ticket, police in most cases have immunity, the newspaper found.

While police cars and firetrucks are not supposed to get tickets, the Tribune found more than 1,000 tickets issued to unmarked police vehicles. But city officials said those violations are routinely excused, even when the police are not on the way to an emergency, under the same law protecting marked vehicles.

The Tribune found more than 16,000 tickets issued to government vehicles and school buses. That included 4,529 tickets to CTA buses, 4,495 to school buses, 1,423 to state vehicles, 1,080 to unmarked Chicago police vehicles, 172 to garbage trucks and 27 to vehicles registered to City Hall.

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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