How much does an automated traffic control system cost?

Author: Vic

Dec. 06, 2023



Tags: Electronic Components & Supplies

This paper examined current red light camera technology, assessed system effectiveness, and outlined major issues associated with deployment. In addition to a review of the basic components of this technology (wet film/35-mm, and digital systems) general cost data was provided.

Most red light camera systems in operation today use wet film technology that requires exposed film to be retrieved, processed, developed, and converted into digital images daily. Digital cameras; however, allow more advanced high resolution imaging, and enable images to be stored and downloaded electronically. Although digital cameras are more expensive, the cost of these cameras is declining.

Automated red light camera systems consist of fixed costs (the costs of the equipment and installation) and variable costs (the cost associated with the back office ticket processes). Overall, the cost for implementing an automated red light enforcement system depends on the geometry of the intersection, and the number lanes/approaches monitored. System costs include the cost of the camera (approximately $50,000), in-pavement inductive loop detectors ($5K per leg), and costs associated with camera housings, poles, flash slaves, and wiring ($5,000 to $8,000). The City of San Francisco, California spent $80,000 per intersection which included installation of loops, wires, poles, and cameras, and the City of Jackson, Michigan spent $67,000 (1998 prices) per intersection for a system that included one wet film camera, housing, loop, pole, and installation. The variable costs are unique to each jurisdiction’s ticketing process and procedures, as well as agreement between the jurisdiction and contractor processing the violations.

This paper provided an overview of commonly deployed adaptive traffic signal control systems. A literature review was conducted to detail functions and features of the five most widely deployed systems in the United States and other countries. The table below provides a brief description of each type of control system.

System Year (Place Developed)

Features and Methodologies

Number of Deployments

(Split Cycle and Offset Optimization Technique) 1970 (UK) Optimizes Splits, Cycle and Offsets; real-time optimization of signal timing More than 200 locations worldwide; around 10 locations in the USA. SCATS
(Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System) 1970 (Australia) Optimizes Splits, Cycle and Offsets; selects from a library of stored signal timing plans More than 50 locations worldwide; more than 10 locations in the USA. OPAC
(Optimization Policies for Adaptive Control) 1990 (USA) The network is divided into independent sub-networks 4 locations in the USA. RHODES
(Real Time Hierarchical Optimized Distributed Effective System) 1990 (USA) Mainly for diamond interchange locations 4 locations in the USA. ACS Lite 1990 to 2006 (USA) Operates with predetermined coordinated timing plans; automatically adjust splits and offsets accordingly 3 locations in the USA.

SCOOT has the largest world-wide deployment with SCATS the largest in the United States. The number of OPAC and RHODES deployments was limited. Although the number of ACS Lite systems deployed was relatively small due to its short history, the number of these systems is expected to grow as a result of its low cost and compatibility with existing closed-loop systems.


The table below provides a summarize data collected from field studies.



Adaptive Signal Control System

Initial Capital Cost (Per Intersection)

SCOOT $30,000 to $60,000 SCATS $20,000 to $30,000 OPAC $20,000 to $50,000 RHODES $30,000 to $50,000 ACS Lite $6,000 to $10,000



How much does an automated traffic control system cost?

Costs for adaptive signal control can vary widely, ranging from ...


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