In the past the primary goal of a tolling system has been to collect revenue by identifying a vehicle, matching it to an existing account, and collecting tolls via account payment options. As technology has evolved, the main objective of a tolling system is not only to collect revenue but to do so with 100% accuracy every time a vehicle passes through a tolling station. Transaction accuracy is a critical success factor, and a key component to developing sustainable systems and enabling urban areas to more effectively plan and support smarter infrastructure for smart cities.
In the last two decades, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) has been widely deployed as an accurate and cost effective means of collecting tolls. In the last several years, the industry has seen a shift to All Electronic Toll collection (AET), where all tolls are collected electronically. Whether the system is ETC or AET, the systems functionality differ from manual collection systems of the past.
Historically, we relied on manual toll collection and the use of technology was to manage and audit cash that was collected at toll stations; and to report system usage. In an ETC system, funds remain in the system, not in the cash drawer. The value of systems designed to ensure transaction accuracy cannot be overstated as it reduces manual processes, revenue leakage, and drives down operational costs. The risk with an electronic system is that it may go offline resulting in far-reaching loss of collections. In an open road tolling system, the problem is further compounded, and failures can affect multiple lanes resulting in revenue leakage, both on the top and bottom line.
The best practice here is to make decisions around the toll system design, implementation and operations that factor in the tolling systems as a financial cash and risk management tool. This approach to building a sustainable system to support a sustainability strategy will ensure a system designed for maximum up-time efficiency, productivity, and most importantly, revenue capture.