Free flow tolling systems must have interoperability, tech experts say


Transport technology group ITS (UK) is calling for the Department for Transport (DfT) to aim for total payment interoperability when implementing free flow tolling technology on planned strategic river crossings.

Now is the ideal time to act, says the group, before a ‘mix of different systems’ becomes ingrained in the highway network and on new crossings such as the Mersey Gateway Bridge due to open in 2017.

It wants the DfT to commission early research into the best way of bringing in the technology, which toll operators will need to plan for.

The result will be lower administration costs and higher compliance levels, with road haulage set to benefit most from the introduction of interoperability, ITS said.

At the same time, plans for new crossings should be future-proofed to allow for the arrival of autonomous vehicles.

ITS (UK) has also said the operator of the Dartford Crossing is not to blame for alleged recent technical failures that have been claimed to lie behind the low 85% payment collection rate achieved during the first month of operation.

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee has said the DfT ‘must investigate what lessons can be learned’ from the way in which the Dart Charge has been introduced.

However ITS (UK) argues that the real reason for the low rate was a conscious policy decision to go initially for soft enforcement. It points out that there is now a fully operational enforcement regime in place and that rates of payment are now running at well over 90%.

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