Update: Pico Count 2500 for $399 at www.CountingCars.com
We've landed quite a few projects this year doing daily traffic counts for MnDOT's state aid program. All we need to provide are 48 hour volumes at a single point – the most basic of all traffic counts. Up until now, we've bought Jamar counters that can collect volumes, speeds, classifications, and gaps. Based on our workload, I went searching for a cheap alternative (most brands charge $1,000+ per counter and also charge for their downloading software).
I came across Vehicle Counts as a possible low cost solution. Their counters are quite different from Diamond, MetroCount, Jamar, etc. The Vehicle Counts products are always on and aren't programmable. You just plug in a tube or two tubes and it records axle hits. Then you download the axle hits into the free software and it translates the axle hits for you into any of the data you'd want.
The $420 (cheaper if you buy in bulk) PicoCount 2500 counters have two ports (so you can collect directional data) and they collect volume, speed, classification, and gap data. We bought five of them. We also bought the count buddy stick, which you use in the field to verify the counter is recording axle hits (it lights up to show you the counter is working and then it has an LED for each port that lights up when it has an axle hit). You buy one $99 count buddy to use with all of your counters, where other brands of counters build that functionality into each counter (which costs more).
As you can see in the pictures, they're radically smaller than the Jamar counters. My field guys love that about the counters.
We bought five counters and tested them with our jamar count tester. They all worked according to our tests. Then we put them out in the field. One died in week one and a second died in week two. We sent them back to Vehicle Counts (at their cost) and they over-nighted us replacement counters each time. Their not sure why these two died, which makes me a little nervous. I get the impression we're their second or third client and are guinea pigs. Also, one end of the count buddy pulled out. We super glued it back together and it keeps working.
For the last two months, everything's worked perfectly. The data looks very accurate in our comparisons and the counters are easy to use. All of this at less than half the price of most other counters and they're easier to deploy in the field. I almost gave up on them (and that's why I didn't write about them immediately), but their customer service has been amazing and they seem to have their bugs worked out. If you're in the market for some new road tube counters and you only need two ports for tubes, I recommend them.