July 30, 2013 11:00 AM, EDT

Tolling Alliance Launching ‘Interoperability’ Hub

Beginning in September, the Alliance for Toll Interoperability will be enrolling toll agencies across North America in its new central collection system, a hub that founders said is the first step toward toll-system “interoperability.”

Carriers and Congress have said they want interoperable toll systems that will allow truckers to travel through various tolling jurisdictions without buying multiple electronic transponders or having to stop to pay tolls in cash, which costs more and wastes time.

“We start signing up members in September with a go-live of December,” said J.J. Eden, president of the interoperability alliance, which announced that the system was taking members.

In tolling jurisdictions that join the hub, cameras will read the license plates of vehicles with electronic transponders, whether the transponder is compatible or not with the toll-reading system.

Then, in what toll experts refer to as the back office operation, the toll will be billed to the jurisdiction where the vehicle purchased its transponder, and the vehicle owner will see the charge on his or her monthly toll statement, Eden told Transport Topics.

“So if you’re an E-ZPass customer and you’re  driving though Texas, for instance, and they capture your license plate, it would go to the hub and they’ll say, ‘Oh, they’re  an E-ZPass customer,’ and send it up to New Jersey or wherever,” he said.

Pat Jones, executive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, the trade group of tolling agencies, said in a statement, “This is an important development on the path to nationwide interoperability . . . that could help knit together regions of tolling interoperability . . . and make traveling easier for motorists.”

The lack of interoperability is such an inconvenience for those hauling freight that twice Congress has passed transportation reauthorization bills — SAFETEA-LU in 2005 and MAP-21 in 2012 — that directed the tolling industry to design interoperable systems.

For additional coverage, see the Aug. 5 print edition of Transport Topics.