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Old August 14th, 2010, 03:47 AM   #1
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Electronic toll collection on cars

I propose this thread so we can discuss, post and debate a feature that is on the rise and here to stay: electronic toll collection.

Systems as such have been around since the 90's, but now there is an observable trend of new roads that have electronic toll collection only. For this matter, I equalize congestion charges like those in Stockholm and London.

Electronic toll collection is a healthy trend, but not without its pitfalls:

(1) lack of standardization. In US, there is no single protocol to collect tolls, nor are there any plans from FHWA to make devices interchangeable. Sure there are some schemes like the E-ZPAss, but don't you dare to go to Texas and drive there...

(2) lack of clear information for drivers not used to the area. On its inception, electronic toll collection was promoted an alternative to booth payment. Now that some roads are using electronic collection only, this can bring a nightmare for drivers outside the area

(3) inconsistency in regard of rental cars. Some collection schemes takes up to 48h to have the charges accrued for. Rental car companies are charging costumers hefty administrative in top of usually modest toll fees to process such claims.

I think that problem #1 is the more impending. USA should work on an unified protocol for electronic toll collection, which would be even better if interchangeable with Canada.

In Europe, this question is very troublesome on the near future, for the obvious reasons cross-traffic accounts for a far higher share of total traffic than North America.

Italy announced that, from late 2011, all ANSA highways (the ones not yet privatized and operating in closed systems) will be fitted with tolls, but only electronic tolls.

Ireland reconstructed/widened a bypass that has electronic tolls only.

I heard there are early stage plans to introduce such schemes in Spain and more advanced plans in Portugal. All this not to forget cities flirting with congestion charge tolls. We need the European commission to step in sooner rather than later to impose an unified European protocol for electronic toll collection.

In any case, my only concern as a driver is that, given the opportunity and much easiness they will find in comparison with physical booths, many cities and countries will be tempted to spread toll and congestions charges around.

What do you think?
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Old August 14th, 2010, 04:24 AM   #2
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I think we pay (more than) enough for roads by fuel-user fees...

road tolls are simple rip-offs to finance the social expenditures, and cause significant damage by diverting cars onto lower rank roads across villages...
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Old August 14th, 2010, 01:02 PM   #3
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In Hungary it is really a big problem that many drivers choose the old roads, crossing villages and towns instead of paying the toll, even if it is moderate.
But having a toll or avoiding it at all is off topic :-)

For electronic tolls it is really a big problem if a driver which does not know the rules of that specific road gets there. I think that every toll station should have at least one lane where you can pay by cash/credit card. It may be more exprensive than electronic fee (+5-10%) in order to force regular users to electronic toll. I would be a nightmare if I need 4-5 expensive electronic units in my car just for travelling from Hungary to France once in a decade!
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Old August 14th, 2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attus View Post
I would be a nightmare if I need 4-5 expensive electronic units in my car just for travelling from Hungary to France once in a decade!
Hence the need of European-wide compatible receivers.

However, I have the impression is heading towards plate-reading systems.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 03:19 PM   #5
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EZ Pass is in 35 states in the Midwest and Northeast , but the receivers should be allowed to work in Florida , Texas , Cali...
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Old August 14th, 2010, 04:27 PM   #6
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Most motorways in Portugal have an optional electronic system (Via Verde). All the current free motorways are being installed with platereading systems.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 08:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielFigFoz View Post
Most motorways in Portugal have an optional electronic system (Via Verde). All the current free motorways are being installed with platereading systems.
Suppose I go to Portugal with a Dutch-plate car. How will I pay for the tolls?
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Old August 14th, 2010, 09:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexis View Post
EZ Pass is in 35 states in the Midwest and Northeast , but the receivers should be allowed to work in Florida , Texas , Cali...
35? Nah, that can't be right.

I disapprove of any method that makes any road off-limits (any place where you can only pay electronically, or only by exact change...) - people shouldn't need to do too much advance research to use the roads - shouldn't need to worry about "if I take this exit will I have to have two quarters on me to drop in the basket?"

And permitting payment by card would be helpful. I drove from Cleveland to Philadelphia one afternoon last summer. Entering the Pennsylvania Turnpike I realized I didn't have much cash on me. There's a toll booth just east of the Ohio border where they collect a flat rate ($5.00 maybe) - the ticket system kicks in farther east - so I said to the guy there that I'd be driving to Philadelphia and would I be able to pay my toll there (another 20 or 25 dollars) by card. Answer: no. So halfway across the state I was pondering how to deal with that - because ATMs on the Turnpike are not connected with my bank and would therefore charge a fee, something else I dislike. You can buy E-ZPass at Turnpike rest areas, from a machine, with a card, so that's what I ended up doing. Now I don't mind all this because I've found E-ZPass very good to have. But if I were from a place with no tolls and would only be using the pass on this trip, I would not have been pleased.

Slightly off-topic question to anyone who knows: Is the Pennsylvania Turnpike, if you travel end to end (New Jersey to Ohio) the most expensive toll road in the country? I'm guessing yes.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 09:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post

Slightly off-topic question to anyone who knows: Is the Pennsylvania Turnpike, if you travel end to end (New Jersey to Ohio) the most expensive toll road in the country? I'm guessing yes.
How much for it?
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Old August 14th, 2010, 09:25 PM   #10
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Using the main leg of the Turnpike (I-76 from the Ohio border to I-276 northwest of Philadelphia, then 276 to the New Jersey border): $29.35, according to this site:

http://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx

I believe it's about $5.00 less in the other direction, because that toll booth at the Ohio line is eastbound only. It would be more if you started out on the Northeast Extension in Scranton or Allentown, drove south to the main leg and then turned west, but no one in their right mind would use that route to get from Scranton or Allentown to western Pennsylvania points; there are shorter Interstate routes that are toll-free, at least until you get west of Harrisburg. (I know I'm throwing a lot of place names out there; here's a reasonably clear and simple map: http://www.paturnpike.com/webmap/PTCIE.htm )
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Old August 14th, 2010, 10:25 PM   #11
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SunPass in Florida

Here in Florida, we have SunPass for electronic toll collection. However, there are other toll roads in Florida that have different systems yet are interoperable with SunPass:

E-Pass: Found on Orlando area toll roads operated by the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority.

LeeWay: Found on Ft. Myers area toll bridges operated by Lee County. By the way, Ft. Myers is located on the southwestern side of Florida about 120 miles south of Tampa on Interstate 75.

Another electronic toll related item that is gaining popularity is Toll-By-Plate. This can be found on the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway in Tampa as well as toll roads in Miami-Dade County operated by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. How that works is if you do not have a SunPass (or a compatible E-Pass or LeeWay transponder) and you drive these roads, an image is taken of your license plate and a bill is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Only drawback I see here is that if someone other than the registered owner was driving the vehicle; however, there are procedures in place to send documentation (which I would believe have to be notarized) stating that a person other than the registered owner was driving the vehicle.

SunPass transponders (and the two other transponders I mentioned earlier) only work in the State of Florida. They will not work on other toll road systems in the United States, such as EZ-Pass in the northeastern United States and FasTrak in California. Conversely, an EZ-Pass or FasTrak transponder will not work on Florida's SunPass system and this becomes a problem for motorists from out of state who want to use the toll transponder from their home state only to get a violation notice in the mail a few days later. For example, an EZ-Pass Maryland customer tries to use his or her EZ-Pass transponder on vacation in Florida only to find out that it does not work in Florida (and not to mention the violation notices from the Florida DOT that would be waiting in the mail upon return home).

However, the major car rental companies have stepped up to the plate addressing the problem of incompatible transponders and offer rental toll transponders to use in their rental cars on a pay-per-day basis. This allows someone from out of state to use the state's toll transponder without having to open an account and have to worry about maintaining a balance and paying annual fees (which is the case with EZ-Pass Maryland; Florida's SunPass does not require annual fees).

I would like to see nationwide interoperability of toll transponders in the United States as this would make things a lot easier. On a side note, I take my SunPass transponder with me when I rent a car anywhere in Florida in order to keep rental car costs down as parctical.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 03:40 AM   #12
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All tolled motorways in Melbourne have electronic tolling. Melbourne was the first in Australia to get electronic tolling back in the late 90's from memory. Melbourne hasn't had the old fashion 'stop and pay' tolling since the 70's.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 04:01 AM   #13
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The M50 ring-road in Dublin, Ireland has an electronic-only toll (since 2008) on a bridge over the River Liffey. See a map of the toll location here.

The toll is €3 for non-registered cars (with a tag it is €2, or video-registration using registration plates is €2.50) that has to be paid by 20:00 the next day. It can be paid online or at almost all petrol stations, convenience stores and supermarkets in the country - anywhere that has the Payzone logo. If you do not pay the toll on time, you are charged another €3 and another €39.50 after 14 days.

And yes, the equipment can detect foreign plates!

If you buy a tag it works at every toll booth in the country and allows you to use the express lanes.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 04:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morjo View Post
All tolled motorways in Melbourne have electronic tolling. Melbourne was the first in Australia to get electronic tolling back in the late 90's from memory. Melbourne hasn't had the old fashion 'stop and pay' tolling since the 70's.
What if someone from Darwin or Perth goes there? Does the system recognize plates from all Australian States?
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Old August 15th, 2010, 05:00 AM   #15
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California uses a system called FasTrak. It's the only ETC system allowed in the state and there are a total of 7 tolling agencies...

CA-125/Southbay Expwy - San Diego
I-15 Express Lanes - San Diego
91 Express Lanes - Orange County
The Tolls Roads/CA-73, 133, 241, 261 - Orange County
Bay Area Toll Authority/S.F. Bay Area Bridges - S.F. Bay Area
Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco
ACTA/VTA (Express Lanes on 580 and 680 - opening soon) - Alameda & Santa Clara Counties

The nearest out-of-state tolling agency is the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge and the WA-167 HOT lane in Washington and the E-470 toll road in Denver. I don't expect my FasTrak transponder to work on those toll roads nor do I expect users of out-of-state ETC systems to work in California. To get all the tolling authorities (probably numbering in the thousands) to agree on a single system is a logistical nightmare and IMO, will never be done.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 09:04 AM   #16
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In Toronto we have a single toll freeway, Highway 407, and it is fully electronic with no toll booths. It uses license plate recognition with an optional transponder that, when installed, reduces the price. I think it's also one of the first such roads. Unfortunately it's also very expensive and I have never driven on it as of yet.

In Israel, Highway 6 is based on the same technology as the 407. I drove through it a little over a year ago. The way it works with a rental, is that the bill arrives like 1-2 months later and the rental company determines who had the car at the time. The credit card was indeed charged for that only about 2 months after we returned from our trip.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 10:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexis View Post
EZ Pass is in 35 states in the Midwest and Northeast , but the receivers should be allowed to work in Florida , Texas , Cali...


More like 14 states.

Anyways many tollroads in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Denver have now gone all electronic with no tollbooths.


Example of a TxTag (used on all Toll Roads in Texas)


Electonic Toll Collection system used on E-470 in Denver
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Old November 9th, 2010, 03:45 PM   #18
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In Malaysia, we have the Touch 'n Go and Smart Tag as the two options of electronic toll collections on expressways. Touch 'n Go requires users to touch a special prepaid card to the card reader at the toll booth, while Smart Tag uses the Touch 'n Go card slotted in a special infrared transponder which responds to the receiver (with a beeping sound) when the user passes the toll booth without stopping. Previously, expressway concessionaires came up with their own electronic toll collection systems and lacked integration before all electronic toll collections are standardized to Touch 'n Go and Smart Tag.

However, there are still some flaws from these systems:-
  1. The Touch 'n Go still needs the user to stop before tapping the card to its reader.
  2. Smart Tag users need to slow down when approaching the toll booth to about 20 km/h. There should be a gap of at least 5 metres between cars.
  3. If something goes wrong with the user's Touch 'n Go or Smart Tag, it will cause long queues and delays.
  4. Smart Tag may not function for some tinted glasses that filters infrared rays.
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Old November 9th, 2010, 11:02 PM   #19
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The Toll Tag in Dallas was the first electronic system in North America back in the 1980s. Vehicles with toll tags can use the express lanes and pay a reduced toll.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TollTag

The newest toll roads in Dallas opened without physical toll booths, instead using plate readers for every vehicle. Because of the convenience provided and overall success, by 2011 all toll roads in Dallas will be converted to cashless operation.
http://www.ntta.org/AboutUs/Projects/AllETC/
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Old November 10th, 2010, 02:05 PM   #20
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Norway's Autopass is rapidly converting to only automatic toll points, where the aim is to pay user on a per-km basis on new motorwayprojects rather than certain points, it is also used on selected ferrys and parking-garages. Chip costs only a deposit and offers discounts for locals, with the chip comes an account where you can add as much money as you like or be billed on a 3-month basis. If your vehicle have no chip you can pay online within 2 weeks, at a fuel-station within 3 days or you can wait and recieve a bill in the post within a 1-3 months (Same cost even if the bill is send to another country.) Via the Easygo-system Denmarks Brobizz can also be used in Norways and Autopass used in Denmark.
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