The key to a successful charging scheme is maintaining flow, as congestion can hardly be improved if drivers have to stop and pay for access to a town or city centre. Multi-lane free-flow solutions are therefore essential.
Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) and Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR)-based solutions are particularly suited to urban environments, where tight geometries and lines of sight caused by buildings and other structures as well as vegetation are common. We offer world-class solutions in both these technologies but decisions over exactly which to use have to take into account many factors. Some of these include:
- Whether all vehicles will have to pay, or whether will there will be exemptions;
- Whether there is a good, up-to-date register of vehicles which can be used for identification purposes;
- How much an agency is prepared to pay for procurement and/or operation of a system;
- If other services are desired besides Road User Charging (such as access control, or payment for parking, mass transit and retail);
- If the visual intrusion of tolling equipment is going to be acceptable; and
- Whether enforcement will use fixed, mobile, portable or a mix of systems.
Q-Free engineers use a ‘toolbox’ approach to the design of congestion charging schemes for individual cities, taking advantage of the unsurpassed range of technologies we offer and allowing tailored solutions to be created which meet any municipality’s needs.
We have also offered a world first to the congestion charging market which was specifically designed to take account of operations in urban areas: the single-gantry solution. This can support all of the technologies of more traditional multiple-gantry solutions, including vehicle classification and identification from the front and rear, charging and enforcement, but with significantly reduced space and visual impacts.
Multiple and single-gantry solutions from Q-Free are now in operation in major cities providing congestion charging services and helping to manage both levels of traffic and traffic-related emissions. They are also helping to encourage travelers to make more responsible choices over how and when to make journeys, contributing to sustainability and the overall quality of life in the areas where they are deployed.