Tolling technology becomes more interoperable 

As tolls have become a more popular solution for transportation challenges in states and municipalities across the country, industry groups and citizens have been calling for more interoperability. Currently, drivers who use tollways operated by different agencies may have to acquire different transponders for each system.

As part of the Moving Ahead for Program in the 21st Century Act, congress called for electronic tolling interoperability. Industry groups like the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) have been working with the Federal Highway Administration to help develop an industry standard for tolling systems. The group plans to make a formal recommendation next year.

IBTTA officials call for a national toll system that allows drivers to establish a single toll account that would allow for payments on all US toll facilities. Officials presented the following statement before the US House of Representative’s oversight and government reform committee:

“We envision that a driver who has a valid registered account with any electronic toll collection (ETC) system (i.e. E-ZPass, SunPass, TxTag, FasTrak, etc.) can have their vehicle identified seamlessly in the electronic toll lanes of any other ETC system using a required National Toll Tag (which would also be associated with their existing account) and have the appropriate fees deducted from their account.”

A key goal of the electronic tolling interoperability effort is that the national toll protocol ultimately selected will be non-proprietary. No special licensing or fees will be needed for those manufacturing or acquiring such devices.

One system being tested is the  ISO 18000-6C radio-frequency identification (RFID) air-interface protocol. The protocol, referred to as 6C, was developed for systems focused on inventory management and asset tracking. A second finalist undergoing testing is the Open Standard Time Division Multiplexing protocol (TDM). Agencies in Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah and Washington use 6C.  TDM is used by 37 agencies in 16 states.