Albany, NY, January 16, 2014 – Since the Common Council passed the ordinance to pursue the installation of red-light cameras at up to 20 intersections in the city, the next anticipated step in the process has been the solicitation of vendors to provide the equipment. This solicitation was made this week, when the City of Albany released their RFP (Request for Proposal) for red-light cameras.
With red-light cameras ostensibly coming to Albany, N.A.R.C. sees the RFP as a last means to protect the residents of Albany from the corruption that has plagued these cameras in numerous cities nationwide. The RFP, as it was released this week, falls short of doing this on many counts.
Yellow Light Durations
While Section 5.3, ‘Site Design’, Part A states, “The contractor shall not have any control over traffic signal operations”, this language is not clear enough to prevent vendors from influencing traffic signal operations in more passive ways. Vendors of red-light cameras have a long reputation for demanding or otherwise influencing shorter yellow light times in order to increase or maintain the profitability of the cameras. We’re calling for a revised RFP to state yellow light durations explicitly or preclude any vendor from demanding or requesting deviation from the Federal Highway Administration’s standard for yellow light duration of one second for every 10mph.
“The people of Albany were promised four second yellow light times by Deputy Cox and the City Council. If Cox is serious about this promise, four second yellow light durations should be explicitly included in the RFP,” said Jesse Calhoun on behalf of N.A.R.C.
Section 5.1-T lists “Equipment Ownership” as “TBD” (To Be Determined). This opens us up to a scheme where the vendor owns the equipment, and would take a cut of every ticket doled out. N.A.R.C. has long been warning that if we do not directly own or lease the cameras, this fact alone invites a third-party special interest to be forever influencing our municipal business. Direct lease or ownership of equipment should have been stated in the RFP.
Stricter Qualifications for Vendors
We are calling for stricter qualifications for vendors, based on questionable history in other municipalities, such as:
- No legal history involving class action lawsuits
- Never been engaged in financial impropriety with elected officials and/or public officials administratively responsible for traffic signal operations
- No contributions to any political campaign or political party in New York
- No interference with ballot referendums regarding deployment of red-light cameras
- No precedent for erroneous citations in other deployments
“We are demanding a revised RFP be released to include these concerns, or else a guaranteed commitment by our administration to include these qualifications in any contract signed,” said Calhoun.
The collective voices of N.A.R.C. have presented vocal opposition to the installation of red-light cameras in the City of Albany, ever since the State Legislature first proposed to grant the city permission to do so. N.A.R.C. still ultimately maintains disapproval of use of these devices for traffic enforcement due to the issues they arise, regarding due process rights and a history of corporate manipulation.