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Tolling Points

When Truckers Love Toll Roads

By: 
Bill Cramer

We often hear that truckers hauling freight avoid toll roads, bridges and tunnels when possible. However, that may be a small vocal minority.  A growing network of commercial truckers across the United States have been turning to toll roads to save money along their routes and speed up the flow of commercial goods on which millions of jobs depend.

Yes, to save money. Because when you drive a big rig, time is money. And getting to your destination sooner means money in your pocket.

The good news comes from IBTTA member BestpassTM Inc., a 15-year initiative of the New York State Motor Truck Association that offers a single point of payment and streamlined toll management services for commercial fleets across the U.S.

Bestpass continues to grow year after year and now processes more than $30 million per month and over $300 million a year in tolls. In a release earlier this month, the company announced “early success” with its offer of full toll coverage in two high-volume states: More than 250,000 transactions in Florida, and more than 6,000 in Kansas.

"Bestpass is a win for commercial motor carriers and the Kansas Turnpike," said Turnpike Authority CEO Steve Hewitt. "Commercial drivers keep moving while receiving electronic discounts, and KTA is able to keep more traffic moving."

Time, Money, and Back Office Efficiency

The owner-operators and commercial fleets that use Bestpass have found a simple, practical solution to a problem that UPS Vice President Pat Thomas, currently chair of the American Trucking Associations, brought into sharp focus at IBTTA’s 2014 Summit on Legislation, Policy & Infrastructure Finance.

“If every one of our drivers sits in traffic for five minutes every day, that costs our company $105 million a year,” he said at the time.

“The worst [highway] bottlenecks are very problematic for our members, as well as the motoring public,” he added six months later, at IBTTA’s 82nd Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Austin, TX. “So there is a value proposition to doing some different things that would move traffic along at a better rate.”

It turns out a growing number of truckers are living that value proposition every day.

"We already use Bestpass for most of our tolls around the country, so we are always eager for opportunities to add new states and further consolidate our toll-related billing and reporting, which in turn helps our back office be more efficient with time and money," said Yumiko Sagara of Trimac Transportation.

In central Florida, truckers are discovering the time savings they can achieve by using a year-old toll road that connects Interstate 4 with the Selmon Expressway.

According to Art Perry, agent manager at Landstar Trucking Logistics Co., the connector saves some truckers enough time to fit an extra trip into their circuit from Port Tampa Bay to various distribution centers.

“Even with a toll required to take the connector, the time saving makes it a worthwhile route,” the Tribune reports. And “once modifications are made to the old truck route, which includes 21st and 22nd streets in Ybor City, even more tractor-trailers will begin using the connector.” The Florida Department of Transportation and the City of Tampa are now working on an “urban modification” project to narrow and beautify roads that previously carried hundreds of freight vehicles per day.

To learn more about Transportation Policy & Finance, please attend IBTTA's Summit, March 13-15, 2016 in Washington, DC.

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