Red-light camera operator asks court to void PPA contract

Red-light cameras at Roosevelt Boulevard and Southampton Road, one of 25 monitored locations in Philadelphia.
Red-light cameras at Roosevelt Boulevard and Southampton Road, one of 25 monitored locations in Philadelphia. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 05, 2014

The company that operates Philadelphia's red-light camera program is challenging the Philadelphia Parking Authority's decision to award the lucrative camera contract to a different company.

American Traffic Solutions Inc., of Tempe, Ariz., is asking Commonwealth Court to void PPA's contract with Xerox State & Local Solutions Inc., a unit of Xerox Corp., of Norwalk, Conn.

Meanwhile, the Parking Authority has filed for an injunction to compel ATS to continue to operate and maintain its cameras during a six-month "winding-down period," until Xerox gets its cameras installed at all 25 affected city intersections.

ATS contends that Xerox's bid was flawed in several ways, including that Xerox proposes to use radar-based cameras to catch motorists running red lights. ATS said Pennsylvania law permits only the state police to use radar, so Xerox may be in violation of state law.

Last month, the Parking Authority denied ATS's protest as "baseless," and said radar cameras will not violate state law, since the law applies only to speeding violations. The PPA noted that ATS had no such objection to radar cameras when it proposed in 2012 to convert its cameras to radar technology.

ATS has installed, maintained, and operated the red-light cameras in Philadelphia since the program's inception in February 2005. In fiscal 2013, ATS received $5.2 million from the PPA.

ATS was paid $25.5 million from February 2005 through March 2013.

In the last seven years, Philadelphia's cameras have caught 787,000 drivers running red lights, resulting in $72 million in fines collected.

After payments to the camera vendor and other expenses, the remaining money goes to a state fund for highway-safety projects around the state.

In December, PPA awarded a new three-year contract to Xerox, effective Feb. 14. The contract provides an option for a one-year extension after three years.

Xerox offered to run the program for $3,825 per camera per month, about 4 percent less than ATS offered, the PPA said. Under the current contract, ATS is getting $4,445 per camera per month.

Currently, there are 115 cameras at the 25 intersections. That means Xerox would get $5.28 million a year at the current level of service.

PPA officials say Xerox will replace cameras, poles, and strobe lights with new radar-operated equipment that officials hope will reduce inaccurate violation readings.

Concerned that ATS might remove or disable its equipment before Xerox gets its cameras operating, PPA filed Friday for the injunction to keep ATS operating its current equipment until the "winding-down period" ends in August.

"We made it very clear to PPA that we would adhere by the provisions of the contract just as we have done for the past eight years," ATS spokesman Charles Territo said. "Obviously, as evidenced by the appeal of the award decision, we would like an opportunity to continue working with them on this important public safety program."

A spokesman for Xerox declined to comment on the dispute.


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul

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