Steady money

Transportation sector reliable for integrator income

The PrePass System, directed by ACS vice president Donald Hubicki, can track trucks traveling the highways from a van.

(Washington Technology photo by Henrik G. de Gyor)

The transportation industry is generally more stable than other state and local sectors because it is not funded through general revenues, but through specialized taxes and user fees, according to industry officials.

"It doesn't go through the boom-and-bust cycle of other programs," said Michael Huerta, senior vice president of transportation systems and services for Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc.

Two high-demand programs that have sustained this sector are advanced traffic management systems and electronic toll programs.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md., is deploying advanced traffic management systems to monitor, control and speed the flow of traffic in Pittsburgh, Houston and Fort Worth, Texas. The company also hopes to participate in a four-year, $10 million federal-state partnership funded by the Transportation Department for the model deployment of a surface transportation security and reliability information system, said Robert Franklin, a manager with Lockheed Martin Transportation Systems.

One of the leading companies in electronic toll collection and permitting for trucks has been Dallas-based ACS. The company inherited a robust business in both areas as a result of its acquisition of Lockheed Martin IMS in July 2001.

The number of customers using ACS' electronic toll collection systems has grown to 20 agencies in nine states, including California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and South Carolina.

The largest and most successful electronic toll program is E-ZPass, which allows drivers in Maryland, New Jersey and New York to purchase a pass for a single program. The company's PrePass program is a computerized system that allows state officials to monitor the credentials and weight of trucks traveling within or across state lines. More than 200,000 trucks are equipped with transponders that allow them to pass through 208 weigh stations in 24 states if they comply with permit, safety and weight regulations.

Nevada, which has no fixed weigh stations, administers the PrePass program from a mobile van provided by ACS. Illinois and Texas also have expressed interest in running the program from similarly equipped vans.

Huerta said many prospective government customers are interested in joining electronic toll collection programs rather than having a program made specifically for their state. ACS is watching an opportunity in Florida, where state officials are expected to release a request for proposals for an electronic toll collection system similar to those in other states.

"The market isn't saturated yet. There's still a lot of growth left in these programs," Huerta said.

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