In Washington, DC, Traffic Cam Debate Rises As Revenue Drops

Posted On: 2/13/2015

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TAGS: vending route, fleet news, Washington D.C. red light cameras, traffic cameras, American Traffic Solutions

WASHINGTON, DC -- It's all about how you look at the data. In Washington, D.C., city officials observed a dramatic drop in tickets generated by automated red light and speeding traffic cameras. For fiscal 2014, the city brought in just under $34 million from the devices, compared with $75 million the year before. Some city officials say this is positive proof that the cameras were doing a great job in changing bad driving habits and creating a safer city. Open the champagne! High-fives all around!

Not so fast. The Washington Post, the persistent killjoy of both local and national politicians, reported that one reason the revenue dropped was that since the city took over maintenance of the system from the supplier, American Traffic Solutions, the cameras have been plagued by technical problems. For instance, cold weather prevented routine maintenance like changing out batteries. The drop in revenue, the newspaper noted, directly correlated to a drop in the effectiveness of the cameras.

The city's dilemma is one that virtually every route operator understands from his or her own experiences. When a location takes over a piece of equipment, the revenue will almost inevitably decrease, often significantly. Lacking expertise, personnel resources, and required core skill sets needed to properly manage equipment can seriously impact revenue.

For now the cameras, which have proven the bane of many a route driver, remain controversial as cities debate their dubious effectiveness in preventing accidents and proven ability to generate needed income against increasingly vocal public disdain.