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Tolling Points

Tech Policy To-Do List Includes Federal Tolling Incentives

By: 
Bill Cramer

The U.S. government can encourage deployment of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) by introducing incentives for states to adopt tolling, the non-profit Information Technology & Innovation Foundation concludes, in an updated Tech Policy To-Do List issued earlier this month.

The recommendation is one of a series the Foundation includes in an inventory that spans a series of sectors, issues, and opportunities, including cybersecurity, data innovation, e-government, tech transfer, privacy, broadband communications, trade and globalization, and more. The list is based on ITIF research produced as recently as April 2018, or dating back as far as 2007.

“While policy discussions about technology and innovation issues often focus narrowly on iconic places like Silicon Valley or Boston’s Route 128 corridor, America’s innovation-driven, high-tech economy is widely diffused—and every state and congressional district has a stake in its success,” the Foundation states. The To-Do List is intended as a menu of “actionable insights and proposals that policy-makers can trust to foster innovation, growth, and progress across America.”

Innovation Connects to Tolling

In the transportation category, those innovations come down to ITS and tolling.

“Intelligent transportation systems (ITS)—the application of information and communications technologies to bring actionable, real-time intelligence to every actor and asset in a transportation network—deliver a cost-benefit ratio at least nine times higher than traditional highway infrastructure investments,” the ITIF states, citing a 2015 research paper. “Congress should prioritize ITS deployments in surface transportation reauthorization bills by devoting no less than 5% of Highway Trust Funds allocated to states to support digital and ITS-based infrastructure projects.”

Based on the same report, the Foundation concludes that tolling “can play a key role in generating the funding to pay for expanded, more efficient roadway capacity. But too many states do not want to support toll-funded projects because they fear public opposition, despite the fact that the public usually supports toll projects that are introduced. Lowering the share of federal funding for non-toll projects from the current 80% share to 60%, while funding the full 80% for toll projects, would provide a stronger incentive for states to establish more toll projects.”

IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Pat Jones welcomes the thumbs-up from an organization that sees the benefits of tolling from the outside looking in.

“Like any other industry, tolling has learned how to tell its own story,” he says. “We know we’re being heard, and making a difference, when we begin to see organizations outside tolling and transportation express our value through their own lens. IBTTA members know they have to innovate to build trust with customers and stakeholders, and remain accountable for delivering safe, reliable mobility. It’s incredibly affirming to see that recognized by an organization that is focused on innovation.”

Innovative services begin with innovative financing! Sign up before it’s too late to attend IBTTA’s Summit on Finance & Policy, July 22-24, 2018 in Portland, OR.

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