The Role of Tolling Strategies in the Success of Electronic Toll Collection Systems

The Role of Tolling Strategies in the Success of Electronic Toll Collection Systems


S Athanassiou, M Bagchi, P Bates, Steer Davies Gleave, UK


This paper looks at the role of tolling strategies in the success of electronic toll collection systems, drawing on toll road case studies to examine technology take up in relation to the operator tolling strategy


Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) refers to a technology that allows electronic payment of road tolls, usually through the use of a tag or smart card fitted to the inside of a vehicle front window. Such systems have been introduced for toll collection at many facilities across the world, offering a series of benefits to the customer and the operator alike. Such benefits include reduced queues and queue times at toll plazas resulting in increased toll lane capacity, reduced toll collection and transaction costs (relative to transaction costs for other payment options) and greater control over enforcement and management of the system overall. In today?s environment, with the ever-increasing introduction of urban toll roads and congestion charging, ETC is becoming a key tolling option.

For tolled facilities where there exists a choice between manual and electronic payment, the take up and use of the electronic toll payment option can contribute to meeting traffic and revenue targets, especially when initiated as part of a well-defined tolling, retailing and marketing strategy. Such a strategy should aim, among other things, to sell the benefits of using the toll road (where there is a choice between tolled and free facilities), to promote the use of the ETC - often by means of offering discounts or other benefits- and to support interoperability with other existing systems. The latter can be critical where a number of such ETC schemes have been implemented, helping to increase the average number of daily trips undertaken using the new technology option over a relatively short period of time.

This paper will be structured in three parts. Firstly, the benefits of ETC systems will be discussed, and evidence will be drawn on from a range of evaluation studies. The paper will then look in more detail at series of case studies, focussing on toll technology penetration and take up over time in relation to the operator retailing and marketing strategy and the benefits offered to the user. The final part of the paper will draw together these elements to make recommendations on effective retail and marketing strategies to encourage technology take up and use and maximise the benefits for the operators as well as the users.


Association for European Transport