About Electronic Tolling

As transportation agencies work to meet the needs of travelers, technology offers many solutions. For example, technology has transformed toll facilities in recent decades, allowing drivers to pay electronically without stopping at a toll plaza. The stress and delay of traffic congestion at toll booths are being eliminated; vehicle emissions are reduced; travel is safer and more convenient; and customer satisfaction is increased. To create a seamless regional system, interoperability of toll devices in vehicles would allow travelers to cross multiple jurisdictions using one reader card and one account. Additionally, enforcement of toll violators – from within the tolling authorities’ jurisdiction and from other jurisdictions – requires policies, legislation and reciprocity agreements. The I-95 Corridor Coalition has served and will continue to serve as a forum to bring together toll authorities to work toward interoperability and enforcement reciprocity, and to share lessons learned within the region and throughout the nation.


Open Road Tolling (ORT)

tollingTo increase traffic flow and travel speeds at electronic toll collection points, Open Road Tolling may be implemented where traffic patterns and physical conditions permit the safe separation and diversion of vehicles which still must stop to pay tolls in traditional cash lanes. Shown above, tag readers and cameras are frequently mounted on overhead gantries in open road Express Toll Lanes.


Today’s Electronic Tolling in Action

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Traveling at prevailing speeds, a vehicle with a small device (toll “tag”) on board can transmit a unique number to a tag reader at the toll collection site. That number links to the customer’s established toll account, allowing the toll to be deducted from the account. For vehicles without toll tags, today’s electronic toll systems classify the vehicle as a toll violator and cameras capture an image of the license plate so that a customer service center can contact the registered owner of the vehicle about the toll amount due.

 

Electronic Tolling is now commonplace, but there still remain travelers who may want to use toll facilities which do not operate with the customers’ existing toll tags. “Interoperability” allows systems to read each other’s tags to collect tolls. In some regions, toll customers already benefit from being able to use one tag and one account where toll operators use compatible toll tags. For example interoperability exists among different toll operators offering SunPass in Florida and across the states comprising the E-ZPass Group.

Toll violators are an issue for all toll system operators; the operators with electronic toll collection have and are developing new technology, legislation and processes to collect payments from toll violators within and outside of their jurisdiction. Collaboration among multiple entities and across state lines is needed to improve today’s electronic tolling and lay the foundation for the future. A strong example of multi-state coordination lies within the I-95 region; the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts have developed legislation enabling their toll agencies to enter into agreements with the other states’ Motor Vehicle Agencies to suspend a resident’s registration for out-of-state toll violations. The Mid-Atlantic States are also taking steps to establish reciprocity agreements and enforcement mechanisms for out-of-state violators.

ME-NH-MA Toll Enforcement Reciprocity Webcast Slides

Mid-Atlantic States Reciprocity Documents – February 4, 2016 Meeting

All Electronic Tolling, or AET, is an emerging business model which offers the potential to solve enforcement issues and provide interoperability to all existing tagholders as well as give all drivers – even those without toll tags – access to the same travel conveniences.

AET combines electronic tolling with robust imaging technologies to enable non-stop toll collection for all. Toll tag customers continue to pay tolls just as they do today. Cash typically remains as a payment option, but is paid through new payment channels rather than at the toll plaza at the time of travel. Vehicles having incompatible tags, or with no tag at all, can pay tolls through video tolling, oftentimes called “plate-based tolling.” Similar in concept to the current way toll operators issue violation notices to toll evaders, plate-based tolling captures an image of the vehicle’s license plate if a toll tag is not detected. The toll operator then obtains contact information from the pertinent state motor vehicle department (“DMV”) to identify the vehicle’s registered owner, and issue toll invoices periodically. Cash typically remains as a payment option for these customers but is paid through new payment channels rather than at the toll plaza at the time of travel. For those traveling among different regional toll systems with currently incompatible tags, broader interoperability can be achieved by linking to the customer’s toll account through the customer-authorized sharing of license plate information among those regional systems.

Electronic Tolling: Benefits, Challenges & Whats New