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Tolling Points

Member Survey Lays Out the Future of Tolling

Bill Cramer, IBTTA

An interview with Pat Jones, Executive Director and CEO, IBTTA

The global tolling industry is poised to build out from a strong foundation of success and embrace an immediate future that is more reliant on mobile technologies and brings a far wider network of partners into the tent, according to a member survey IBTTA conducted as part of this year’s strategic planning exercise.

The survey responses showed an industry that is proud of its achievements and confident that tolling agencies’ core focus on user funding and financing will be a key building block for the next generation of mobility systems, says IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones. At the same time, members see the opportunity to expand their business relationships with tech companies, app providers, and other new entrants that would scarcely have been a part of the industry as recently as five years ago.

Where should the tolling industry focus?

Jones points to three questions in the survey that shed light on members’ view of their industry’s future by asking them to choose between two paired statements.

  • Asked whether IBTTA should serve existing tolling stakeholders or expand the tent and embrace the broader mobility space, 58 percent chose the bigger tent, compared to 33 percent who favored a focus on existing stakeholders. “We’re hearing from members that there’s a big, wide world out there, tolling is an important piece of that, but we also need to be connected with other transportation modes and disciplines that affect the tolling industry.”
  • The response was more mixed on whether IBTTA should strengthen its existing member benefits and services or focus on creating new offerings, with 39 percent for existing services and 38 percent for a wider menu.
  • Asked whether the association should work to advance and represent the worldwide tolling industry or the broader mobility and transportation community, 53 percent chose the broader approach, while 34 percent supported a sharper focus on tolling. “So again,” Jones says, “our members are saying yes, there are important things we do, and yes, we also have to look beyond our own industries for challenges and trends to work on and embrace.”

Embracing innovation and change

The overall sense of solidity driving toward innovation came through loud and clear when survey participants looked at a list of 15 industry issues and picked their top three priorities for the next three years. The winners: road charging, innovation and technology, and mobile payments.

“That formulation supports the notion that we build from our strength and look beyond just tolling,” Jones says.

With the world moving to embrace road usage charging as the eventual solution to a declining gas tax, “there’s a recognition among our members that tolling needs to play a bigger role in whatever RUC turns out to be”. Participants also talked about the need for new technologies, applications, solutions, and innovations to keep the industry fresh and responsive to changing customer needs.

“The industry has always embraced technology and innovation,” he notes. But now, “there’s a sense among some of the members that perhaps the existing technology providers and integrators in the industry are overtaxed, that there’s more work than can be accomplished by the existing group of vendors and integrators. We expand our tent when people look beyond the traditional tolling vendors and integrators to work with the Googles, the Apples, and the auto manufacturers, for ideas to solve our biggest, most pressing problems.”

It’s (still) all about community

The other big takeaway from the survey is that more than a year after a sudden, global health emergency ushered in a time of rapid change and deep uncertainty, IBTTA is still the place where tolling professionals find the support they need to get the job done. According to the survey, 92% of members are very or somewhat satisfied with IBTTA membership, up from 85% a year ago and 20 points above the industry average of 72%. Jones says 44% of survey participants identified community and networking as the thing they value most about their IBTTA membership, while another 23% cited collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

“When the pandemic hit, we lost a bunch of things,” Jones says. “We couldn’t meet in person. We couldn’t hold the kinds of meetings that people think of when they think of IBTTA. But we knew we wanted to be present for our members and offer constant value in new ways. We’re still the place where people can come together – virtually – to see each other, and share their knowledge and experiences, their joys and sorrows. This is what we set out to do when the world collapsed, and members are seeing that.”

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 08:30


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