Adding an Automated License Plate Reader system to supplement an electronic credentialing system produces an estimated benefit cost ratio of 26.2:1.

Results of a benefit-cost analysis of British Columbia's Green Light Program.

Date Posted

Evaluation of Automated License Plate Recognition for Improving British Columbia's Green Light Program

Summary Information

This analysis evaluates the marginal benefits of adding an automated license plate recognition system (APLRS) for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation's (BCMOT) Green Light Transportation System (GLTS), which was launched in the spring of 2009. At the time of publication, GLTS was a voluntary program for CMVs to increase mobility by collecting data for CMVs at highway speeds using weigh-in-motion (WIM) and automatic vehicle identification (AVI) technologies. GLTS utilizes an in-vehicle transponder that electronically relays vehicle registration and other pertinent information to the inspection station as the vehicle approaches WIM scales. The GLTS allows vehicles that have been pre-screened to bypass physical inspection unless they are selected randomly for inspection. The APLRS functions similarly to the GLTS because it interfaces with the multiple databases for credentialing and enforcement purposes, but relies on photographing the front and rear license plates instead of using a transponder to relay information to the system.

Because of the voluntary nature of the GLTS program, the BCMOT estimate for penetration is approximately 15 percent in five years. Because the ALPRS system would not require registration of CMVs, penetration is at the level of accurate plate reading, which according to tests is nearly 90 percent, and can be achieved in a shorter period of time. However, the GLTS system transponders provide a stop/do not stop for inspection indication up to 15 minutes before the CMV arrives at an inspection station, while the ALPRS system would require high accuracy of information passed to CMV drivers through variable message signs (VMS) and drivers following those directions. The resulting conservatively estimated APLR penetration rate is 60 percent.


Table 2: Net Benefit of ALPR Investment
Annual Benefit
Time Savings* $2,074,409
Fine revenue** $1,132,583
Fuel Savings* $431,089
Emission Reduction* $111,324
Accident Reduction** $24,052,000
* 3 selected inspection stations, ** Province wide
Investment $1,060,200
Benefit-Cost Ratio: 26.2:1

"The magnitude of the figures indicates that a substantial return on an investment would result from adding ALPR to the GLTS. Even if the investment in ALPR were doubled or the benefits reduced by 25 percent, this observation remains valid. However the bulk of the monetary benefits of using ALPR technology in addition to the GLTS are from collision avoidance. The evaluation of benefits and the weight placed on this benefit should be evaluated carefully. For example, there is continuous debate over the underlying values of the cost of injury and fatalities. In addition, collision avoidance was estimated from province wide figures. On the other hand, the application of the ALPR and GLTS would be at the 8 inspection stations with the majority of the intercity movement of trucks. Even if the collision benefits were reduced by 50 percent, the benefit – cost ratio would still be substantial. Fine revenue alone exceeds the investment costs of the ALPR and thus would be budget neutral."

For more detail on the benefit calculations, please see the link below.