Through the process of toll collection on highways and expressways, the Govt. collects fees from commuters who travel on Govt. roadways. These funds are then deployed toward building new roadways, expansions, other infrastructural projects (etc.).
Legacy toll-collection systems required commuters to stop at toll-booths and pay their toll. This often resulted in traffic bottlenecks, road rage, safety concerns, cumbersome administration processes, and delays.
The arrival of the “Fast-Tag” a few decades ago alleviated these problems to some extent but had its limitations and thereby fell short of widespread adoption.
The advent of the modern GPS-based “virtual toll-collection booth” is a system where a set of pre-defined road coordinates are designated as toll-collection points. The GPS coordinates of vehicles that enter this Geo-Fenced area are automatically matched with that of the “virtual” toll-booth and toll-charges automatically debited from the bank account mapped against that vehicle.
The use of a modern, GPS-enabled Feet Management System by Transport Managers is all the more important now since a GPS-enabled app/device in a vehicle is needed to communicate with a “virtual” toll booth. Additionally, advanced data integration and data analytics that these Fleet Management Systems offer enables Transport Managers to constantly track, monitor, and improve fleet performance in areas of tolls paid, fines incurred, fuel consumption, assigning accountability, and aiming to optimize operations.
Introduction & brief history
Toll-collection is the process of collecting fees from commuters who use highways, freeways, etc. These fees are often used for operating costs, funding future expansions (etc.)
However, traditional toll systems where commuters had to stop at toll-booths have been forever criticized since they had numerous downsides including traffic congestion, safety concerns, and fuel inefficiency.
The arrival of “fast-tags” a few decades ago was a step in the right direction but had limitations such as inadequate adoption, technology issues (etc.). An updated and improved modern solution to these issues is to implement road pricing based on Global Positioning System (GPS).
What is a GPS-based toll collection system?
GPS toll collection is how the Government collects toll money by using GPS technology to track the GPS coordinates of the vehicle. The toll is automatically deducted from the bank account of the vehicle owner by matching the GPS coordinates of the vehicle as soon as the vehicle enters the co-coordinates of a toll-collection point.
The earliest project on GPS-road pricing was accompanied by a field test in Hong Kong in 1997 (Catling, 2000).
GPS-based Toll Crossing Systems.
GPS toll-collection systems are a quick and effective method for toll collection and are increasingly the favored option for toll-booths on freeways etc. People that sit in booths to collect toll charges are a thing of the past.
It is a (1) cashless transaction (ie purely digital) and the toll-booth is completely “virtual” ie a pre-designated set of physical coordinates defined as a ‘toll-booth and (2) vehicles do not stop to pay the toll and the payment is automatically debited from the registered bank account registered against the vehicle.
It offers numerous benefits for Governments, commuters, and society.
Benefits for Governments:
- Payment flexibility: cumbersome cash transactions are eliminated since the charges are automatically debited from the bank account that is registered against a vehicle.
- Traffic decongestion: traffic control methods like HOV toll, pricing based on time, weekdays, weekends etc. – particularly, in urban areas – for decongestion are greatly enhanced by this real-time exchange of information between a GPS tolling booth and a GPS-enabled fleet management system.
- Increased collections: since traffic movement is much quicker, the number of vehicles passing through “toll-booths” is also higher thereby increasing the number of daily toll transactions.
- Emission control: eliminating traffic congestion also eliminates vehicle idling, acceleration and its associated harmful vehicular emissions. While this may impact only the immediate toll-booth areas, every little bit helps in reducing our carbon footprint.
Commuters stopping for toll-payment create traffic bottlenecks. Since GPS-toll collection is based on Geo-Fencing, a vehicle that enters predefined GPS coordinates that serve as a “Virtual Toll Booth” is automatically charged the amount due. Payment is automatically deducted from the e-wallet
GPS toll collection systems: enabling Fleet Management systems to track tolls, fines, and violations
The growing adoption of GPS tracking toll collection systems is a boon for fleet management systems in managing their operating costs. Toll crossing fees, penalties, violations, and associated legal charges (etc.) often become a significant drain for Fleet Management Service companies. Thanks to the advanced data capacity of modern fleet management systems, Transport Managers can now track these costs at various hierarchical levels eg client, vehicle, drivers, routes, etc. This brings accountability and enables managers to manage their costs.
Fleet managers then study this data to generate insight eg tolls paid per vehicle, fines per driver, client route costs, etc., and plan for cost-optimization.
Route optimization: to incentivize commuters to take routes that benefit them as well as benefit society, there are several methods of optimization including driving in HOV or bus lanes, free parking, tax rebates. Also available are sterner options like penalties eg city tolls, auto-free areas, e-vehicle zones, etc.
E-mobility: fortunately, electric vehicles are here to stay. As adoption grows, Govts. are looking to accelerate the process by encouraging commuters to use specific routes by providing incentives like discounted toll charges on routes with e-charging stations. For Eg, a GPS-based fleet management app in your car/phone could route you to e-charging stations that have lower prices that day, that hour, etc. thus de-incentivizing you from using highways with higher charges.
Reduced commute times: since vehicles do not stop at a physical toll facility, the feared traffic bottleneck at toll booths is a thing of the past and traffic can quickly pass through these virtual checkpoints.
Saves fuel cost: elimination of idling, acceleration and deceleration (etc.) in such a system saves fuel, which, forms a significant part of vehicle operating cost.
Increased safety: better traffic and route management directly improve safety stats, which, is a huge benefit to people and society.
Easy payment: cash handling is greatly reduced since charges are automatically debited from the e-wallet, digital accounts (etc.). This provides more control over tax audits, provides more convenience to commuters.
Benefits of using a modern GPS enabled Fleet Management Mobility Software: as mentioned above, deploying a modern GPS-enabled Fleet Management Mobility Software is necessary to communicate with the modern “virtual, GPS-enabled polling stations”. The massive data available also allows Fleet Managers to continually improve their operations and benefit immensely across reduced toll-costs, reduced operating costs, better safety (etc.).
Conclusion: GPS-enabled toll-polling stations are the way forward, now. For companies that manage fleets, using GPS enabled fleet management software to track their toll costs and manage their operating cost is imperative.