Electronic toll collection
Overview
 
Electronic toll collection (ETC), an adaptation of military "identification friend or foe
Identification friend or foe
In telecommunications, identification, friend or foe is an identification system designed for command and control. It is a system that enables military and national interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles, or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the...

" technology, aims to eliminate the delay on toll road
Toll road
A toll road is a privately or publicly built road for which a driver pays a toll for use. Structures for which tolls are charged include toll bridges and toll tunnels. Non-toll roads are financed using other sources of revenue, most typically fuel tax or general tax funds...

s by collecting tolls electronically. It is thus a technological implementation of a road pricing
Road pricing
Road pricing is an economic concept regarding the various direct charges applied for the use of roads. The road charges includes fuel taxes, licence fees, parking taxes, tolls, and congestion charges, including those which may vary by time of day, by the specific road, or by the specific vehicle...

 concept. It determines whether the cars passing are enrolled in the program, alerts enforcers for those that are not, and electronically debits the accounts of registered car owners without requiring them to stop.

In 1959, Nobel Economics Prize winner William Vickrey
William Vickrey
William Spencer Vickrey was a Canadian professor of economics and Nobel Laureate. Vickrey was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics with James Mirrlees for their research into the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information...

 was the first to propose a system of electronic tolling for the Washington metropolitan area.
Encyclopedia
Electronic toll collection (ETC), an adaptation of military "identification friend or foe
Identification friend or foe
In telecommunications, identification, friend or foe is an identification system designed for command and control. It is a system that enables military and national interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles, or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the...

" technology, aims to eliminate the delay on toll road
Toll road
A toll road is a privately or publicly built road for which a driver pays a toll for use. Structures for which tolls are charged include toll bridges and toll tunnels. Non-toll roads are financed using other sources of revenue, most typically fuel tax or general tax funds...

s by collecting tolls electronically. It is thus a technological implementation of a road pricing
Road pricing
Road pricing is an economic concept regarding the various direct charges applied for the use of roads. The road charges includes fuel taxes, licence fees, parking taxes, tolls, and congestion charges, including those which may vary by time of day, by the specific road, or by the specific vehicle...

 concept. It determines whether the cars passing are enrolled in the program, alerts enforcers for those that are not, and electronically debits the accounts of registered car owners without requiring them to stop.

In 1959, Nobel Economics Prize winner William Vickrey
William Vickrey
William Spencer Vickrey was a Canadian professor of economics and Nobel Laureate. Vickrey was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics with James Mirrlees for their research into the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information...

 was the first to propose a system of electronic tolling for the Washington metropolitan area. He proposed that each car would be equipped with a transponder. “The transponder’s personalised signal would be picked up when the car passed through an intersection, and then relayed to a central computer which would calculate the charge
according to the intersection and the time of day and add it to the car’s bill”

In the 1960s and 1970’s, free flow tolling was tested with fixed transponders at the undersides of the vehicles and readers, which were located under the surface of the highway.

Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 has been the world's pioneer in the widespread implementation of this technology. ETC was first introduced in Bergen
Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

, in 1986, operating together with traditional tollbooths. In 1991, Trondheim
Trondheim
Trondheim , historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. With a population of 173,486, it is the third most populous municipality and city in the country, although the fourth largest metropolitan area. It is the administrative centre of...

 introduced the world's first use of completely unaided full-speed electronic tolling. Norway now has 25 toll roads operating with electronic fee collection (EFC), as the Norwegian technology is called (see AutoPASS
Autopass
Autopass is an electronic toll collection system used in Norway. It allows collecting road tolls automatically from cars...

). In 1995, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 became the first country to apply a single, universal system to all tolls in the country, the Via Verde
Via Verde
thumb|right|Freeway lane sign in the Portuguese A6 freeway/motorway . The leftmost lane is for exclusive use by vehicles equipped with Via Verde tags.thumb|right|Via Verde lanes in the 25 April Bridge toll plaza, Almada....

, which can also be used in parking lots and gas stations. The United States is another country with widespread use of ETC in several states, though many U.S. toll roads maintain the option of manual collection.

Open road tolling
Open road tolling
Open road tolling or free-flow tolling is the collection of tolls on toll roads without the use of toll booths. An electronic toll collection system is usually used instead. The major advantage to ORT is that users are able to drive through the toll plaza at highway speeds without having to slow...

 (ORT)
is a type of electronic toll collection without the use of toll booths. The major advantage to ORT is that users are able to drive through the toll plaza at highway speeds without having to slow down to pay the toll.

Overview

In some urban settings, automated gates are in use in electronic-toll lanes, with 5 mph (8 km/h) legal limits on speed (and 2 to 3 times that as practical limits even with practice and extreme concentration); in other settings, 20 mph (35 km/h) legal limits are not uncommon. However, in other areas such as the Garden State Parkway
Garden State Parkway
The Garden State Parkway is a 172.4-mile limited-access toll parkway that stretches the length of New Jersey from the New York line at Montvale, New Jersey, to Cape May at New Jersey's southernmost tip. Its name refers to New Jersey's nickname, the "Garden State." Most New Jersey residents refer...

 in New Jersey, and at various locations in Florida, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Texas, cars can travel through electronic lanes at full speed. Illinois' Open Road Tolling program features 274 contiguous miles of barrier-free roadways, where I-PASS or E-ZPass
E-ZPass
E-ZPass is an electronic toll-collection system used on most tolled roads, bridges, and tunnels in the northeastern US, south to Virginia and West Virginia, and west to Illinois. Currently, there are 25 agencies spread across 14 states that make up the . All member agencies use the same technology,...

 users continue to travel at highway speeds through toll plazas, while cash payers pull off the main roadway to pay at tollbooths. Currently over 80% of Illinois' 1.4 million daily drivers use an I-PASS.

Enforcement is accomplished by a combination of a camera which takes a picture of the car and a radio frequency keyed computer which searches for a drivers window/bumper mounted transponder to verify and collect payment. The system sends a notice and fine to cars that pass through without having an active account or paying a toll.

Factors hindering full-speed electronic collection include significant non-participation, entailing lines in manual lanes and disorderly traffic patterns as the electronic- and manual- collection cars "sort themselves out" into their respective lanes; problems with pursuing toll evaders; need, in at least some current (barrier) systems, to confine vehicles in lanes, while interacting with the collection devices, and the dangers of high-speed collisions with the confinement structures; vehicle hazards to toll employees present in some electronic-collection areas; the fact that in some areas at some times, long lines form even to pass through the electronic-collection lanes; and costs and other issues raised when retrofitting existing toll collection facilities. Unionized toll collectors can also be problematic.

Even if line lengths are the same in electronic lanes as in manual ones, electronic tolls save registered cars time: eliminating the stop at a window or toll machine, between successive cars passing the collection machine, means a fixed-length stretch of their journey past it is traveled at a higher average speed, and in a lower time. This is at least a psychological improvement, even if the length of the lines in automated lanes is sufficient to make the no-stop-to-pay savings insignificant compared to time still lost due waiting in line to pass the toll gate. Toll plazas are typically wider than the rest of the highway; reducing the need for them makes it possible to fit toll roads into tight corridors.

Despite these limitations, however, it is important to recognize that throughput increases if delay at the toll gate is reduced (i.e., if the tollbooth can serve more vehicles per hour). The greater the throughput of any toll lane, the fewer lanes required, so expensive construction can be deferred. Specifically, the toll-collecting authorities have incentives to resist pressure to limit the fraction of electronic lanes in order to limit the length of manual-lane lines. In the short term, the greater the fraction of automated lanes, the lower the cost of operation (once the capital costs of automating are amortized). In the long term, the greater the relative advantage that registering and turning one's vehicle into an electronic-toll one provides, the faster cars will be converted from manual-toll use to electronic-toll use, and therefore the fewer manual-toll cars will drag down average speed and thus capacity.

In some countries, some toll agencies that use similar technology have set up (or are setting up) reciprocity arrangements, which permit one to drive a vehicle on another operator's tolled road with the tolls incurred charged to the driver's toll-payment account with their home operator. An example is the United States E-ZPass tag, which is accepted on toll roads, bridges and tunnels in fourteen states from Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 to Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

.
In Australia, the e-TAG
E-TAG
e-TAG is an electronic toll collection system used on tollways throughout Australia. Based upon the DSRC protocol, it was originally developed by Transurban for use on their CityLink tollway in the early 1990s, with the system since adopted by all electronic tolled roads, bridges and tunnels in...

 device is accepted at all tolled motorways. A toll is debited to the customer's account with their tag provider. Some toll road operators – including Sydney's Sydney Harbour Tunnel
Sydney Harbour Tunnel
The Sydney Harbour Tunnel is a twin-tube road tunnel in Sydney, Australia. The tunnel was completed and opened to traffic in August 1992 to provide a second vehicular crossing of Sydney Harbour to alleviate congestion on the Sydney Harbour Bridge....

, Lane Cove Tunnel
Lane Cove Tunnel
The Lane Cove Tunnel is a A$1.1 billion, 3.6 km twin tunnel tollway in Sydney, Australia, connecting the M2 Motorway at North Ryde with the Gore Hill Freeway at Artarmon. It forms part of Sydney Metroad 2 and the 110 km Sydney Orbital Network...

, and Westlink M7
Westlink M7
Westlink M7 - formerly Western Sydney Orbital - is one of Sydney, Australia's urban motorways and a part of Metroad 7 and the Sydney Orbital Network. It connects three Metroads: M5 at Prestons, M4 at Eastern Creek and M2 at Baulkham Hills...

, Melbourne's CityLink
CityLink
CityLink is a system of tolled urban Highways in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The company Transurban was awarded the contract to augment two existing freeways and construct two new Toll roads—labelled the Western and Southern Links—directly linking a number of existing freeways to...

 and Eastlink, and Brisbane's Gateway Motorway
Gateway Motorway
The Gateway Motorway is a major motorway in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The Gateway Bridge is owned and operated by Queensland Motorways....

 – encourage use of such tags, and apply an additional vehicle matching fee to vehicles without a tag.

A similar device in France, called Liber-T for light vehicles and TIS-PL for HGVs, is accepted on all toll roads in the country.

In Brazil, Sem Parar/Via-Fácil allows customers to utilize in more than 1,000 lanes in the states of São Paulo, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. Sem Parar/Via-Fácil also allows users to enter and exit more than 100 parking lots. There is also other systems such as via expressa, onda livre,auto expresso that is present in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana and Minas Gerais.

In Pakistan, the National Database and Registration Authority is implementing an electronic toll collection system on motorways using RFID.

The European Union has created the EFC-directive, which attempts to standardize European toll collection systems. Systems deployed after 1 January 2007 must support at least one of the following technologies: satellite positioning, mobile communications using the GSM-GPRS standard or 5.8 GHz microwave technology. All toll roads in Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 must support the eToll
EToll
eToll is a National Roads Authority run interoperability system allowing cashless payment on all of Ireland's toll roads. Based on an RFID tag attached to the windscreen of a participating vehicle, it allows drivers to travel on the tolled sections of them M1, M4, M6, M7, M8 and M50 as well as the...

 tag standard.

Use in urban areas and for congestion pricing

The most revolutionary application of ETC is in the urban context of congested cities, allowing to charge tolls without vehicles having to slow down. This application made feasible to concession to the private sector the construction and operation of urban freeways, as well as the introduction or improvement of congestion pricing
Congestion pricing
Congestion pricing or congestion charges is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. Examples include some toll-like road pricing fees, and higher peak charges for utilities, public transport and slots in canals and airports...

, as a policy to restrict auto travel in downtown areas.

Between 2004 and 2005, Santiago, Chile implemented the world's first 100% full speed electronic tolling with transponders crossing through the city's core (CBD) in a system of several concessioned urban freeways (http://www.cnorte.clAutopista Central and Autopista Costanera Norte
Costanera Norte
Costanera Norte is a 43 km privatized expressway connecting northern Santiago Metropolitan Region from east to west, along the northern bank of the Mapocho River, using an electronic toll collection system. It was inaugurated on April 12, 2005...

]). The United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 implemented in 2007 a similar road toll collection in Dubai
Dubai
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates . The emirate is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi...

, called Salik
Salik (road toll)
Salik is the name given to the electronic toll road system in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The system has been by some residents of the city state for being an added expense for them. However, in general the system has been well received as a further way of attempting to reduce the serious...

. Similar schemes were previously implemented but only on bypass or outer ring urban freeways in several cities around the world: Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 in 1997 (Highway 407), several roads in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 (AutoPASS), Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

 in 2000 (CityLink
CityLink
CityLink is a system of tolled urban Highways in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The company Transurban was awarded the contract to augment two existing freeways and construct two new Toll roads—labelled the Western and Southern Links—directly linking a number of existing freeways to...

), and Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 also in 2000 (Highway 6
Highway 6 (Israel)
Highway 6 , widely known as the Trans-Israel Highway or Cross-Israel Highway , is a major electronic toll highway in Israel. The highway was officially dedicated as the Yitzhak Rabin Highway , though this name is not commonly used. It started operating in the early 2000s and is being lengthened as...

).

Congestion pricing or urban toll schemes were implemented to enter the downtown area using ETC technology and/or cameras and video recognition technology to get the plate numbers in several cities around the world: urban tolling in Norway's three major cities: Bergen
Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

 (1986), Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 (1990), and Trondheim
Trondheim
Trondheim , historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. With a population of 173,486, it is the third most populous municipality and city in the country, although the fourth largest metropolitan area. It is the administrative centre of...

 (1991) (see Trondheim Toll Scheme
Trondheim Toll Scheme
Trondheim Toll Scheme or Trondheim Package was the result of that in the 1980s politicians and road authorities in Trondheim, Norway wanted to accelerate the investments in roads and motorways around the city through an investment package and toll scheme to ease construction and generate more funds...

); Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 in 1998 (see Singapore’s Electronic Road Pricing
Electronic Road Pricing
The Electronic Road Pricing scheme is an electronic toll collection scheme adopted in Singapore to manage traffic by road pricing, and as a usage-based taxation mechanism to complement the purchase-based Certificate of Entitlement system...

), as an upgrade to the world's first successful congestion pricing
Congestion pricing
Congestion pricing or congestion charges is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. Examples include some toll-like road pricing fees, and higher peak charges for utilities, public transport and slots in canals and airports...

 scheme implemented with manual control in 1975 (see also Singapore's Area Licensing Scheme); Rome in 2001 as an upgrade to the manual zone control system implemented in 1998; London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 2003 and extended in 2007 (see London congestion charge
London congestion charge
The London congestion charge is a fee charged for some categories of motor vehicle to travel at certain times within the Congestion Charge Zone , a traffic area in London. The charge aims to reduce congestion, and raise investment funds for London's transport system...

); Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, tested in 2006 and made the charge permanent in 2007 (see Stockholm congestion tax
Stockholm congestion tax
The Stockholm congestion tax , also found referred to as the Stockholm congestion charge, is a congestion pricing system implemented as a tax levied on most vehicles entering and exiting central Stockholm, Sweden...

); and in Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

, the capital city of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, since May 2007.

In January 2008, Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 began a one-year trial program called Ecopass
Ecopass
The Ecopass program is a traffic pollution charge implemented in Milan, Italy, as an urban toll for some motorists traveling within a designated traffic restricted zone or ZTL , corresponding to the central Cerchia dei Bastioni area and encircling around . The Ecopass was implemented as a one-year...

, a traffic charge
Congestion pricing
Congestion pricing or congestion charges is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. Examples include some toll-like road pricing fees, and higher peak charges for utilities, public transport and slots in canals and airports...

 program in which low-emission-standard vehicles pay a user fee; alternative fuel vehicle
Alternative fuel vehicle
An alternative fuel vehicle is a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than "traditional" petroleum fuels ; and also refers to any technology of powering an engine that does not involve solely petroleum...

s and vehicles using conventional fuels but compliant with the Euro IV emission standard are exempted. The program is in effect until December 31, 2009, and a public consultation will be conducted to decide if the charge becomes permanent.

New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 considered the implementation of a congestion pricing
Congestion pricing
Congestion pricing or congestion charges is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. Examples include some toll-like road pricing fees, and higher peak charges for utilities, public transport and slots in canals and airports...

 scheme. The proposal was approved by the New York City Council
New York City Council
The New York City Council is the lawmaking body of the City of New York. It has 51 members from 51 council districts throughout the five boroughs. The Council serves as a check against the mayor in a "strong" mayor-council government model. The council monitors performance of city agencies and...

 on March 31, 2008, however, on April 7, 2008 the New York State Assembly
New York State Assembly
The New York State Assembly is the lower house of the New York State Legislature. The Assembly is composed of 150 members representing an equal number of districts, with each district having an average population of 128,652...

 decided not to vote on the proposal, which means that the plan is stalled. (see New York congestion pricing
New York congestion pricing
New York congestion pricing was a proposed traffic congestion fee for vehicles traveling into or within the Manhattan central business district of New York City...

)

In 2006, San Francisco transport authorities began a comprehensive study
San Francisco congestion pricing
San Francisco congestion pricing is a proposed traffic congestion user fee for vehicles traveling into the most congested areas of the city of San Francisco at certain periods of peak demand. The charge would be combined with other traffic reduction projects...

 to evaluate the feasibility of introducing congestion pricing. The charge would be combined with other traffic reduction implementations, allowing money to be raised for public transit improvements and bike and pedestrian enhancements. The various pricing scenarios considered were presented in public meetings in December 2008, with final study results expected in 2009.

Technologies

Electronic toll collection systems rely on four major components: automated vehicle identification, automated vehicle classification, transaction processing, and violation enforcement.

The four components are somewhat independent, and, in fact, some toll agencies have contracted out functions separately. In some cases, this division of functions has resulted in difficulties. In one notable example, the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 E-ZPass
E-ZPass
E-ZPass is an electronic toll-collection system used on most tolled roads, bridges, and tunnels in the northeastern US, south to Virginia and West Virginia, and west to Illinois. Currently, there are 25 agencies spread across 14 states that make up the . All member agencies use the same technology,...

 regional consortium's Violation Enforcement contractor did not have access to the Transaction Processing contractor's database of customers. This, together with installation problems in the automated vehicle identification system, led to many customers receiving erroneous violation notices, and a violation system whose net income, after expenses, was negative, as well as customer dissatisfaction.

Automated vehicle identification

Automated vehicle identification (AVI) is the process of determining the identity of a vehicle subject to tolls. The majority of toll facilities record the passage of vehicles through a limited number of toll gates. At such facilities, the task is then to identify the vehicle in the gate area.

Some early AVI systems used barcode
Barcode
A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data, which shows data about the object to which it attaches. Originally barcodes represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or 1 dimensional . Later they evolved into rectangles,...

s affixed to each vehicle, to be read optically at the toll booth. Optical systems proved to have poor reading reliability, especially when faced with inclement weather and dirty vehicles.

Most current AVI systems rely on radio-frequency identification, where an antenna at the toll gate communicates with a transponder
Transponder
In telecommunication, the term transponder has the following meanings:...

 on the vehicle via Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC)
Dedicated Short Range Communications
Dedicated short-range communications are one-way or two-way short- to medium-range wireless communication channels specifically designed for automotive use and a corresponding set of protocols and standards....

. RFID tags have proved to have excellent accuracy, and can be read at highway speeds. The major disadvantage is the cost of equipping each vehicle with a transponder, which can be a major start-up expense, if paid by the toll agency, or a strong customer deterrent, if paid by the customer.

To avoid the need for transponders, some systems, notably the 407 ETR (Electronic Toll Route) near Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, use automatic number plate recognition. Here, a system of cameras captures images of vehicles passing through tolled areas, and the image of the number plate is extracted and used to identify the vehicle. This allows customers to use the facility without any advance interaction with the toll agency. The disadvantage is that fully automatic recognition has a significant error rate, leading to billing errors and the cost of transaction processing (which requires locating and corresponding with the customer) can be significant. Systems that incorporate a manual review stage have much lower error rates, but require a continuing staffing expense.

A few toll facilities cover a very wide area, making fixed toll gates impractical. The most notable of these is a truck tolling system in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. This system instead uses Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 location information to identify when a vehicle is located on a tolled Autobahn. Implementation of this system turned out to be far lengthier and more costly than expected.

As smart phone use becomes more commonplace, some toll road management companies have turned to mobile phone apps to inexpensively automate and expedite paying tolls from the lanes. One such example application is Alabama Freedom Pass mobile, used to link customer accounts at sites operated by American Roads LLC. The app communicates in real time with the facility transaction processing system to identify and debit customer accounts or bill a major credit card.

Automated vehicle classification

Automated vehicle classification is closely related to automated vehicle identification (AVI). Most toll facilities charge different rates for different types of vehicles, making it necessary to distinguish the vehicles passing through the toll facility.

The simplest method is to store the vehicle class in the customer record, and use the AVI data to look up the vehicle class. This is low-cost, but limits user flexibility, in such cases as the automobile owner who occasionally tows a trailer.

More complex systems use a variety of sensors. Inductive sensors embedded in the road surface can determine the gaps between vehicles, to provide basic information on the presence of a vehicle. Treadles permit counting the number of axles as a vehicle passes over them and, with offset-treadle installations, also detect dual-tire vehicles. Light-curtain laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

 profilers record the shape of the vehicle, which can help distinguish trucks and trailers.

Transaction processing

Transaction processing deals with maintaining customer accounts, posting toll transactions and customer payments to the accounts, and handling customer inquiries. The transaction processing component of some systems is referred to as a "customer service center". In many respects, the transaction processing function resembles bank
Bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

ing, and several toll agencies have contracted out transaction processing to a bank.

Customer accounts may be postpaid, where toll transactions are periodically billed to the customer, or prepaid, where the customer funds a balance in the account which is then depleted as toll transactions occur. The prepaid system is more common, as the small amounts of most tolls makes pursuit of uncollected debts uneconomic. Most postpaid accounts deal with this issue by requiring a security deposit
Security (finance)
A security is generally a fungible, negotiable financial instrument representing financial value. Securities are broadly categorized into:* debt securities ,* equity securities, e.g., common stocks; and,...

, effectively rendering the account a prepaid one.

Violation enforcement

A violation enforcement system (VES) is useful in reducing unpaid tolls, as an unmanned toll gate otherwise represents a tempting target for toll evasion. Several methods can be used to deter toll violators.

Police patrols at toll gates can be highly effective. In addition, in most jurisdictions, the legal framework is already in place for punishing toll evasion as a traffic infraction. However, the expense of police patrols makes their use on a continuous basis impractical, such that the probability of being stopped is likely to be low enough as to be an insufficient deterrent .

A physical barrier, such as a gate arm, ensures that all vehicles passing through the toll booth have paid a toll. Violators are identified immediately, as the barrier will not permit the violator to proceed. However, barriers also force authorized customers, which are the vast majority of vehicles passing through, to slow to a near-stop at the toll gate, negating much of the speed and capacity benefits of electronic tolling.

Automatic number plate recognition
Automatic number plate recognition
Automatic number plate recognition is a mass surveillance method that uses optical character recognition on images to read the license plates on vehicles. They can use existing closed-circuit television or road-rule enforcement cameras, or ones specifically designed for the task...

, while rarely used as the primary vehicle identification method, is more commonly used in violation enforcement. In the VES context, the number of images collected is much smaller than in the AVI context. This makes manual review, with its greater accuracy over fully automated methods, practical. However, many jurisdictions require legislative action to permit this type of enforcement, as the number plate identifies only the vehicle, not its operator, and many traffic enforcement regulations require identifying the operator in order to issue an infraction.

An example of this is the vToll system on the Illinois Tollway, which requires transponder users to enter their license plate information before using the system. If the transponder fails to read, the license plate number is matched to the transponder account, and the regular toll amount is deducted from the account rather than a violation being generated. If the license plate can't be found in the database, then it is processed as a violation. An interesting aspect of Illinois' toll violation system is a 7 day grace period, allowing tollway users to pay missed tolls online with no penalty the 7 days following the missed toll.

Privacy Issues

Electronic toll collection can be a threat to location privacy. Many implementations are implemented in a privacy-insensitive manner. Using E-Cash
Ecash
Using cryptography, ecash was introduced by David Chaum as an anonymous electronic cash system. He used blind signatures to achieve unlinkability between withdrawal and spend transactions. Depending on the properties of the payment transactions, one distinguishes between on-line and off-line...

 and other modern cryptographic
Cryptography
Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties...

 methods, it is possible to design systems that do not know where individuals are, but are still able to enforce fares.

See also

  • List of electronic toll collection systems
  • Congestion pricing
    Congestion pricing
    Congestion pricing or congestion charges is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. Examples include some toll-like road pricing fees, and higher peak charges for utilities, public transport and slots in canals and airports...

  • GNSS Road Pricing
    GNSS Road Pricing
    GNSS road pricing or GNSS tolling is the charging of road users using Global Navigation Satellite System sensors inside vehicles. Advocates argue that road pricing using GNSS permits a number of policies such as tolling by distance on urban roads and can be used for many other applications in...

  • GSM
  • Open road tolling
    Open road tolling
    Open road tolling or free-flow tolling is the collection of tolls on toll roads without the use of toll booths. An electronic toll collection system is usually used instead. The major advantage to ORT is that users are able to drive through the toll plaza at highway speeds without having to slow...

  • Tachograph
    Tachograph
    A tachograph is a device fitted to a vehicle that automatically records its speed and distance, together with the driver's activity selected from a choice of modes. The drive mode is activated automatically when the vehicle is in motion, and modern tachograph heads usually default to the other work...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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