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KHOU 11 News

Houston Company Sues Metro Over Contract


HOUSTON – A local company says it’s being unfairly squeezed out by the city after it came up with a solution to Metro’s safety problem.


From the beginning the bells and whistles haven’t been enough, and Metro’s Light Rail has had issues with collisions, either cars running into the trains or trains running into cars.


To help solve that problem Metro contracted with two small companies to develop a system that could monitor the trains and drivers—for starters making sure that they are stopping at red lights.


“We have onboard equipment on the vehicle, and equipment at the intersection, and we basically monitor using GPS if the light rail train runs this intersection,” said Brent Salvert with EMTRAC Systems.


The company patented the system that it says is 98-percent accurate and millions of dollars less expensive than a similar system developed by a major multi-national company that was only 68-percent accurate in testing.


Based on that, the company said METRO asked it to develop a more comprehensive safety system that includes signal and speed limit controls for use on the expansion.


All over town the signs of expansion are unavoidable. The expansion of light rail in the downtown core and East End is on track, but the guys at EMTRAC said they have been locked out of the bidding process.


“They came back to us and said if we wanted to bid we would have to get with one of our competitors,” said Kevin Byrne of COMPUTEC, who is also suing Metro.


“You have a company that comes in does the work, and they chew them up and spit them out, and in come the big companies to use their technology,” said Jason Gibson an attorney representing the small companies in their multi-million dollar lawsuit.


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