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Tolling Points

California Dreaming: New Tolling Technologies Enter Prime Time

By: 
Bill Cramer

SAN DIEGO - On the first day of IBTTA’s Summit on All-Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes, and Interoperability, participants heard about the next wave of technological advances that will transform highway transportation.

Much of the discussion Sunday afternoon focused on developments in California, where tolling agencies and jurisdictions are gaining valuable, hands-on experience with every imaginable tolling innovation.

  • Iconic structures like the Golden Gate Bridge converted to all-electronic tolling (AET) in a successful bid to improve traffic flows, streamline tolling operations, and cut costs.
  • The Transportation Corridor Agencies, operators of 51 miles of toll roads in Orange County go cashless, idling 74 tollbooths and changing life for many who drive Highways 241, 261, 73 and 133.
  • Managed lane networks are turning AET into a congestion management tool, using variable pricing to optimize rush hour traffic flows.
  • Public-private partnerships are drawing needed investment dollars into a cash-strapped highway system, with tolls delivering reliable revenue streams to cement long-range financing deals.
  • California has been at the forefront of the effort to make tolling systems interoperable, so that drivers from any state can use toll roads in any other part of the country without buying an additional toll tag or transponder.
  • And, earlier in the afternoon, participants heard about the continuing drive for regional interoperability through a European electronic tolling system.

IBTTA’s Annual AET Summit, now in its eighth year, is one of the main opportunities for IBTTA members and industry leaders to hear about the latest and greatest in new tolling technologies. This week’s conference is no exception: With a seemingly endless array of new vendors and applications on the horizon, about a dozen technology providers took part in a “Vendor Shootout,” giving participants a snapshot of new devices and systems to operate existing all-electronic toll roads more effectively—or, in some cases, to introduce payment and customer information options based on mobile devices.

The afternoon keynote was delivered by Joseph Kopser, CEO and Co-Founder of RideScout, based in Austin, Texas. Their iPhone and Android app allows people to search and compare ground transportation options on demand and in real time. RideScout shows users transit, taxi, bike, car and ride-sharing, carpool, driving, parking and walking in one view.

“Today, most tolling agencies are also technology agencies,” notes IBTTA President Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) in Austin, Texas. “We’re in a world where people expect things to be seamless, and the new tolling technology makes that seamless factor possible, within and across agencies.”

With another two days to go in this year’s AET Summit, participants can look forward to a cascade of ideas and insights on intelligent transportation systems, connected vehicles, data management, customer privacy, and a new generation of tolling projects that are changing the face of user-financed transportation. Throughout, the central focus is on creating a seamless and satisfying experience for tolling customers. 

If you missed this meeting, don’t miss IBTTA’s 82nd Annual Meeting and Exhibition, September 14-17 in Austin.

photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

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