Whose traffic camera system is bigger? D.C. or Baltimore's?
In the Baltimore Sun's speed camera investigation published Sunday, Xerox State & Local Solutions, Baltimore's speed camera vendor, called the city's automated traffic enforcement system the largest in North America. That figure included both red light and speed cameras.
The next morning, the mayor's office challenged that claim and sent out a news release comparing Baltimore's cameras with the District's. It did not send the release to the Sun reporters who had authored the article.
"Baltimore City’s automated traffic enforcement efforts, including speed camera and red-light cameras generated $27.5 million in Fiscal year 2012 compared to Washington, D.C.’s $84.9 million, even as the District’s land area is a 15% smaller," the release stated. "Despite being characterized as 'North America's largest' automated camera enforcement program by the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore’s program, in fact, generates less than a third of the revenue as the Washington, D.C. program. Baltimore has 82 fixed speed cameras compared to nearly 130 in Washington."
But the release turned out to be incorrect about the number of cameras in D.C.
D.C.'s website lists 129 locations where the city can place cameras, but only 46 of those actually have speed cameras operating at a given time, data show. Baltimore has 168 such locations listed on its site and operates 83 at a given time.
If red light cameras are included in the total, D.C. has 93 traffic enforcement cameras, compared with 164 for Baltimore.
"Currently, there are 47 red-light enforcement cameras in the city," Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump wrote in an email to The Sun. "There are 25 fixed or portable and 21 mobile speed enforcement cameras."
Ryan O'Doherty, spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said the city's release was designed to give "context" to The Sun's reporting, which he said made no mention of Washington's system. He acknowledged that D.C. does, indeed, have fewer cameras, but that they generate much more revenue than Baltimore's do.
Earlier this month, Xerox, the city's vendor, wrote in a letter to City Hall that Baltimore has the "single largest combined red light and speed camera program operating in North America."