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Tolling Points

Global Tolling Summit in Lisbon to Explore Big-Picture Mobility

By: 
Bill Cramer

Malika Seddi, Deputy to the Executive Director in charge of international affairs at France’s Association Professionnelle Autoroutes et Ouvrages à Péage (ASFA) and IBTTA’s 2019 International Vice-President, and Jason Wall, CEO of A-to-Be, are Chief Meeting Organizers for IBTTA’s Global Tolling Summit, October 27-29 in Lisbon, Portugal. In this interview with Tolling Points, they talk about the big-picture issues that are reshaping transportation and tolling on the world stage.

Driving the Future of Mobility is Chris Tomlinson’s theme for his year as IBTTA President. How will some of the key topics on this year’s program shape the industry’s view of that future?

MS: The Future of Mobility is at the heart of the challenges we face as a society. Climate change is one of the top priorities, and toll motorway operators have to be a part of the solution. The European Union is determined to reduce CO2 emissions by decreasing congestion, optimizing capacity, developing multimodal hubs, and finding an efficient, legislated solution for cross-border enforcement as we move toward full, EU-wide toll interoperability. These are all issues the United States is facing, as well.

At the same time, our societies are changing, and there are new ways of consuming mobility services, from carpooling and carsharing to electric vehicles, new mass transit services, and autonomous vehicles. The digital revolution is connecting everything, producing incredible data flows and new markets for mobility service providers. Our job as an industry is to welcome these new opportunities, adapt to emerging needs, build better services and new alliances, and develop the systems and infrastructure to make sure those new services are available and work properly.

Infrastructure operators have to be at the heart of this evolution/revolution. The tolling industry is evolving fast, and we have to be prepared to change and rethink our businesses as mobility agencies.

JW: The industry’s view of the future is already being carved out.

Cars are significantly more carbon-efficient than ever before, and we’re also seeing a significant upward trend toward electric vehicles. That makes it more obvious than ever before that infrastructure funding must come from a more stable source than the gas tax.

Data management will be a huge topic for years to come, thanks to drastic advances in areas like Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data. I see Blockchain as the perfect path toward toll interoperability because it’s a system that cannot be defrauded—it’s a clearinghouse that ends any contention about who holds the money, and for how long. For IoT and Big Data, we’re finding more and more uses in Vehicle-to-Vehicle and Vehicle-to-X applications.

It adds up to a very bright future, and I’m excited to see how all of this new technology will play out. It’s a new revolution that will allow tolling agencies and their contractors/partners to work with state and national governments to create best practices and standardize the mobility industry.

What can the global tolling community learn from Portugal’s experience transforming a high-quality transportation system into a more customer-centric mobility network?

JW: The system in Portugal shows us that mobility is not the individual services like tolling, bus or train transit, parking, ferries, or scooters. For our customers, mobility is about all of those things, and about choosing the mode they need to use, when they need to use it. Our industry can learn from the way Portugal has integrated virtually every form of paid mobility into a single, seamless platform to meet individual needs and give each user the widest range of opportunities. That success delivers greater efficiencies for users and savings back to government, producing a reciprocal effect on the way customers view their mobility agency. It truly is a win-win scenario.

MS: Our Portuguese colleagues have anticipated the changes in the tolling industry. They’ve begun transforming themselves into “mobility service providers”, offering top-rate services that meet their customers’ needs through a combination of carsharing, carpooling, park and ride, free-flow tolling, and digital payment systems. They’re doing all of that and more with a sustainable funding model based on the user-pay principle.

IBTTA’s fall summit is one of the key moments each year when tolling professionals get to experience the full scope and power of a truly global industry. What do you see as the most important takeaways from this summit?

MS: The Lisbon Summit is a chance to learn from each other, focusing on the global tolling movement and highlighting the “I” in IBTTA. The strategic and planning issues our industry faces, the need to fund the maintenance of our infrastructure while getting ready to adapt to and welcome autonomous vehicles—none of that is isolated to a single toll facility, jurisdiction, or region. Having all of these professionals together, discussing key topics together from an international perspective, all in one summit, will be a tremendous learning experience for all. We are all in the business of delivering safe mobility services based on the virtue of quality infrastructure.

JW: I always appreciate the opportunity to learn from the experience of other industry leaders and get a perspective on what’s new on their radar. We all have the same goal—to deliver the best solution to whatever problem we’re trying to address. The Global Tolling Summit gives us the opportunity to learn from our world-wide colleagues and broaden our horizons.

Register today for IBTTA’s Global Tolling Summit, October 25-27, 2019 in Lisbon.

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 11:45

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