Electronic Toll Collection

The centuries-old mechanism of having roads and other infrastructure pay for their own construction and operation took a new turn in the mid-1980s with the arrival of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC). For the first time, road users no longer needed cash to pay to use a facility. Instead, they could pay electronically and wirelessly, from a pre- or post-paid account, using an On-Board Unit (OBU) employing the Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) protocol.

Since then, much more has happened. There is a desire for operational and safety reasons to remove cash transactions entirely from some tolling schemes and this has given rise to the concepts of All-Electronic Toll Collection (AETC) and Multi-Lane Free-Flow (MLFF). This is not the only factor driving technology development. The geographic size of tolling deployments has grown to cover whole countries and regions, for instance. This requires different combinations of cost and capability, and a mix of technologies. DSRC has been joined by Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) and satellite (Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)/Global Positioning (GPS)) technologies and, more recently, hybrids of GNSS/DSRC. The numbers and types of means of payment will continue to grow. Emerging solutions include the use of smart devices and phones as well as Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology.

The applications of tolling have also multiplied. The challenge of making transiting heavy goods vehicle traffic pay for the wear and damage it causes to infrastructure has led a growing number of countries to implement truck tolling schemes on strategic and other routes, for instance. But tolling is now not only used to make infrastructure self-financing. It is also used as a traffic and congestion management tool. By applying charges to a geographically cordoned area such as a city or by introducing some form of distance-based scheme, tolling, now increasingly known as Road User Charging (RUC), can be used to decrease the numbers of vehicles on our roads and to encourage individuals to take more responsibility for the when and how they travel.

Q-Free sits at the cutting edge of all of these developments. We can offer reference sites for all of these applications and stands ready to work with customers to determine which technology or mix of technologies is the best suited to an application, and where necessary to work as a partner to innovate and create.

 

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