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Tolling Points

Annual Meeting Stresses Effective Operations in Times of Rapid Change

By: 
Bill Cramer

Kristen Johnson of ITR Concession Company LLC, Jessica Carson of the E-470 Public Highway Authority, and Chris Body of Kapsch TrafficCom are track chairs for IBTTA’s 86th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, October 14-16, 2018 in Baltimore. In this interview with Tolling Points, they trace program highlights that will deliver powerful takeaways for everyone who attends.

What are the most compelling issues in your conference track, and how do they tie in with the broader transformation of the global tolling industry?

KJ: Operations is at the heart of any organization. In the tolling industry, it encompasses everything from safety to customer service, road operations to technology, enforcement to security, and everything in between. This year’s Operations Track focuses on three key issues facing the industry:

• How to ensure safe, secure operations, particularly in an environment of rapid change;

• Legal and behavioral factors that affect collections, and how additional insight and technology can help maximize revenues; and

• How agencies are continuing to improve the customer service experience through new technologies and changes to historic in-house/outsourced business models.

JC: The Trust and Accountability Track touches every aspect of the tolling industry, from business processes and financial models, to partner relationships and customer service, to media sentiment and the political landscape. Trust begins within the walls of the company, extends to strategic business partners, spreads to all key stakeholders, and then rests with the customer. To ensure healthy relationships across all the pieces of the puzzle, an organization has to establish a culture of accountability, holding everyone to the same standard of excellence.

This track will look at several areas of the business to analyze how the transportation industry practices trust and accountability. Some of the emerging issues include public understanding of the lack of infrastructure funding, communication with key stakeholders about user-financed transportation, using effective performance management to ensure continuous improvement on the part of tolling agencies, and cooperation and communication among state DOTs, tolling authorities, and concessionaires.

CB: We wanted the Annual Meeting to focus on some higher-level technologies that are prevalent in other industries and business and are making their way into the tolling space. From using smartphones for toll payments to connected vehicles to drones, we have many of the new, exciting technologies and applications covered. All of us in the industry have to embrace most of these new technologies because our customers are.

Much of the current discussion in the industry focuses on both the opportunity for and the imperative of rapid innovation. What insights and next steps will participants take away from your track?

JC: The Trust and Accountability Track focuses on the changing landscape of our industry, the rapid growth of traffic on today’s roadways, and the need to hold ourselves accountable to meet the demands being placed on all of us. Our panelists will discuss how DOTs and agencies can coexist in the face of competition, how to balance social equity with the need for an ongoing revenue source to fund infrastructure improvements, and how to keep the customer included and informed as our industry evolves. Experienced industry leaders will provide real-life examples of how they faced key challenges and the lessons they learned. Their stories will help other tolling professionals understand the best way to approach the challenges their organizations face and build a network of professional peers to share questions and experiences.

KJ: Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from panelists who are at the forefront of evaluating, developing and deploying new technologies across their operations. The Operations Track will be an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand how agencies are embracing change and improving the way they do business by harnessing innovation in all the multiple facets of their operations. The presentations and Q&A will reveal best practices and lessons learned as attendees evaluate their current and future operational needs.

IBTTA’s theme for this year, Trust and Accountability, is one of the session tracks in Baltimore, but it’s also infused throughout the program. What shining examples can members expect to hear about by attending the conference?

KJ: When we began planning IBTTA’s 2018 conference series and the theme of Trust and Accountability was introduced, there was a lot of discussion around the room about what it meant to us and how we could infuse it throughout the program. We discussed the importance of bringing together as many agencies and industry stakeholders as possible to discuss key topics openly and transparently – the good and the bad, the ups and the downs – to encourage the continuing development of trusted networks within the industry. In this time of rapid change, we need to work together toward the common goal of moving people and goods safely and efficiently, rather than working in silos and running the risk of not meeting customer expectations. The program we’ve put together for the Annual Meeting provides a lot of opportunity for us to keep working together as an industry.

JC: The Trust and Accountability Track features a range of industry experts—from tolling authority leaders, to legislative trailblazers, to innovative vendors who are helping to shape the future of this industry. Conference attendees will hear from the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation on current funding challenges, the leadership team from the Maryland Transportation Authority on the MDOT Excellerator Performance Management Program, and several industry vendors, including the Vice President of Transurban, talking about how to approach the future through the eyes of the customer. All three Trust and Accountability sessions are shaping up to be extremely educational and thought-provoking.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

JC: This industry is changing rapidly, and that can be a challenge for leaders, vendors, business partners, media and customers. IBTTA’s Annual Conference in Baltimore will approach several areas of the business and help attendees find answers, learn from others, and network with counterparts from around the world. This is one conference you will not want to miss.

KJ: I’d echo Jessica’s comments. It’s an exciting time in the industry, and this conference will provide an excellent opportunity to network, learn and share.

It isn’t too late! But it soon will be. Sign up today for IBTTA’s 86th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, October 14-16 in Baltimore.

 

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