Thursday, December 3, 2009

Red Light Camera Vendors Fight Over Baltimore Contract

As Baltimore rapidly rolls out its new speed camera program, two photo enforcement vendors, two red light camera vendors are fighting it out in court over ownership of the city's red light cameras.

According to Baltimore, Maryland officials, a photo enforcement vendor has threatened to unplug the city's red light camera program unless its financial demands are met. The charges were leveled in a federal lawsuit initially filed by Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) against Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Baltimore inserted itself into the lawsuit last month claiming it had more of a stake in the matter.
"The contract between ACS and the city for the operation of the red light camera system generates significant revenues for the city of Baltimore," Baltimore's Chief Solicitor Michael S. Elder explained in court documents. "These revenues are utilized to fund other important governmental functions. Any interruption in the operation of the system will deprive the city of revenues that are desperately needed for essential functions in the current economic climate... The city's interest in its ability to fund vital government functions through its share of the revenue stream derived from the red light traffic camera system program is an interest that is plainly not shared by ACS."

ATS claims that it owns the City's red light cameras, which had been previously installed by Nestor Traffic Solutions (under a subcontract with ACS). Nestor's assets were purchased by ATS. ACS and the city of Baltimore claim that ATS was bound by Nestor's obligation to transfer ownership of the cameras to the City. According to court documents, "threatened to disable and/or remove red light camera devices in the City of Baltimore." ATS has yet to formally answer charges made in the lawsuit.

A similar but reversed dispute over equipment happened in DC when ATS took over control of that city's red light cameras from ACS in 2007. It was found that ACS had left large amounts of city owned equipment in disrepair.

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