City Considering Contracts for Not One, But Two Traffic Camera Vendors; Offering Them $9.6 Million Combined

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City officials have narrowed down their list of traffic camera vendors to two companies that, if approved by the Board of Estimates this week, will be paid $9.6 million to track and ticket Baltimore drivers.

According to an agenda posted online by the Board of Estimates today, the Department of Transportation has proposed paying New Jersey-based Conduent, Inc., over $4 million and Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions over $5 million over the next five years, with options for two renewal periods of two years thereafter.

By this design, Conduent would run the city’s fixed and portable speed-tracking cameras for school and work zones, while American Traffic Solutions would operate the red light and commercial vehicle enforcement cameras. Mayor Catherine Pugh previously said Baltimore will get 10 fixed-speed cameras, 10 portable-speed cameras, 10 red-light cameras and six more enforcing road restrictions for commercial trucks.

There’s a certain logic to having them share the work, according to the BOE agenda: “Splitting the award between two vendors provides assurance that if one vendor fails to perform, another vendor under contract [is] ready to provide these services.”

The city had to shut down the last traffic camera program in 2014 when the companies in charge began issuing incorrect citations. Per the Sun, city officials testified that, in addition to having a problem with issuing false tickets, the system had simply become too big to manage.

Mayor Pugh has said that this time around the program will be much smaller and that the Baltimore Police Department and the Department of Transportation will review each traffic citation. The city also will hire an ombudsman to handle complaints about the transportation department.

The companies will be paid a flat fee each month for their services. They will not receive a commission for each ticket issued, as previous companies have done before.

Both firms have their ties to legal troubles that often come with operating traffic cameras. The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reports American Traffic Solutions is tied to an ongoing legal dispute in Florida stemming from a 2014 court ruling that determined that program was illegal due to having too much policing power.

Conduent hasn’t seen any legal battles itself, though it is owned by Xerox, which operated Baltimore’s notoriously bad system that was shut down four years ago.

Mayor Pugh had budgeted about $7.9 million to implement traffic cameras in the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

The Board of Estimates will vote on whether to approve the two contracts this Wednesday. If approved, the firms could set up cameras in Baltimore by next month, under the mayor’s timeline.

Ethan McLeod
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