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Tolling Points

Learn from Europe’s Toll Modernization Experience at IBTTA’s Global Tolling Summit

By: 
Bill Cramer

Klaus Schierhackl is CEO of ASFINAG, the agency that manages more than 2,200 kilometres of tolled motorways and expressways across Austria. In this interview with Tolling Points, he talks about the takeaways and lessons learned that will make IBTTA’s Global Tolling Summit, September 5-7, 2018 in Salzburg, an essential experience for tolling executives from across the United States, Europe and around the world.

The complexity and interconnectedness of the Austrian motorway system make it an exemplar for so much of what tolling agencies around the world are trying to achieve. How did this come about, and what are the most important things Summit participants can learn in Salzburg?

KS: There are many advantages but also some challenges to being located in the heart of Europe. How do you manage huge traffic volumes in alpine regions without producing negative impacts for the resident population? Innovation is the key! That was reflected in ASFINAG’s initiative to build what was then Europe’s tallest bridge in the early 1960s, then again when we implemented the continent’s first nation-wide, free-flow electronic tolling system in 2004.

ASFINAG’s innovation commitment continues to this day. It drives us to work on key strategic initiatives like automated mobility, in partnership with Austrian transport industry market leaders like Kapsch, AVL List, and Magna Steyr. In Salzburg, participants will get insights in one of Europe’s most advanced test regions for automated driving, and get the latest on the state of play with Cooperative ITS (C-ITS) deployment and European harmonization activities.

Your session on the Austrian motorway system focuses on the connection between tolling and roadway operation. How is that linkage playing out in Austria and in Europe, and what can participants from outside the continent take away from the European experience?

KS: Roadway operation is the service we offer our customers, and for which they pay. So the two aspects, operations and tolling, are closely connected. We have to ensure that we offer the right services, that we charge a fair price, and that the payment process is as convenient as possible. Internet of Things applications and road automation might offer new payment possibilities or operational tools. So one part of our session will look at what vehicles already know about our roads, realizing that the vehicles might already know more than we do as drivers.

A crucial reality for tolling, connected mobility, and interoperable road automation is that cooperative ITS solutions won’t stop at national borders. That means we need common standards to prevent tolling and other services from interfering with each other. Our session will look at some flagship initiatives that are not limited to the Austrian motorway system: Some of them have already been introduced in international destinations like Australia.

IBTTA’s international summit is always the best opportunity to share ideas and strategies across the entire global tolling industry. What knowledge and insights do you expect at the Summit that simply wouldn’t be available to tolling professionals in North America?

KS: As a European, I think colleagues from North America will learn a lot from our experience with replacements of nation-wide electronic free-flow tolling systems, as we’ve experienced them in Austria and Slovenia. Salzburg will also be a great opportunity to learn how European Cooperative ITS harmonization activities have helped advance the industry. Our sessions will be much more focused on the effects on the tolling industry than similar but broader discussions at ITS congresses. And finally, the Summit will bring together experts from all around the world in an inspiring atmosphere: Just think of W.A. Mozart, who was born in Salzburg.

My insiders’ tip would be to fly to Vienna and join the Technical Tour on Wednesday, to gain some great insights into the Austrian motorway system. The tour will end in Salzburg, directly in front of our summit venue.

Register today for IBTTA’s Global Tolling Summit, September 5-7, 2018 in Salzburg, Austria.

 

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