The number of photo radar tickets handed out in Winnipeg has spiked in the last year – with nearly 30,000 more tickets handed out in 2013 than 2012.

But Winnipeg police say actual officer-issued tickets are down, with traffic-enforcement staff issuing much more.

Photo radar

Nearly 30,000 more photo radar tickets were handed out to Winnipeg drivers last year. Here are the city’s official numbers:

2012 – 45,735

2013 – 74,890

That could be due to a new device called a Dragon Cam. It’s a laser-based tool that lets traffic enforcement operators park perpendicular to traffic rather than parallel to it.

Now, speeds are being nabbed in areas enforcement staff couldn’t get to before.

Winnipeg police said the spike in tickets means drivers are getting the message, and the goal of the program is to make city streets safer.

But Len Eastoe of Traffic Ticket Experts said it’s more about revenue generation than safety. He wants to know why photo-radar operators don’t sit in plain sight in order to catch speeders.

“I thought the whole idea was to be visible – get people to slow down in the high traffic areas,” he said. “You’re not accomplishing that necessarily by tagging a vehicle.”

Sgt. Rob Riffel said if people don’t like photo radar tactics, they can avoid a ticket by simply not speeding.

“Call it a user tax,” he said. “You don’t have to pay it. You choose whether you pay that tax or not.”

But anti-photo-radar group Wise Up Winnipeg said the City of Winnipeg has developed a strategy to increase its photo enforcement revenue by taking down speed limit signs in residential areas and upping photo radar trucks.

So speeding might be a result of confusion about what the limits are.

Todd Dube, the founder of the group, said the city has removed 124 speed limit signs in the last 14 months and hasn’t yet replaced them.

“All of their locations they enforce have had speed signs removed in advance of them,” he said.

When the group first brought up the issue of speed limit signs being taken down in February 2013, city officials said residents should know the speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour unless otherwise posted.