How a tolls payment method evolved into a fleet manager assistant
Toll collection has long history across Europe. One of the earliest accounts of tolling with an organized toll schedule can be found in 18thCentury France for a bridge in the city of Lyon. Since that time, paying for the use of a motorway, bridge or tunnel has been a common practice in Europe. These Road Usage Charges (RUC) are collected in the form of taxes or tolls. RUC is constantly evolving; from barrier based to free-flow charging, from cash to card-based and now electronic device-based (on-board unit or OBU) charging, from fixed tariff systems to dynamic pricing
Electronic Tolling Systems (ETS)
RUC is highly beneficial to local communities. By controlling emissions, reducing congestion, and supporting sustainable development in the road transport and logistics sector RUC offers long-term benefits to all industry stakeholders, especially fleets. Tolling can prove to be a great enabler in meeting some of the EU’s emission reduction targets. Electronic tolling will be instrumental in this regard. In the last few decades Electronic Tolling, which is done with the help of an electronic device in the vehicle, fixed installed roadside equipment and/or satellite systems, has helped to enable the benefits of road user charging. Within the electronic tolling space, the OBU placed in the vehicle is one of the most significant elements in imparting the much-required intelligence needed for an effective tolling regime. In a study conducted by Ptolemus in 2015, the number of ETC subscriptions will double by 2025 with most toll sites being barrier-free, leading to free-flow tolling across the globe.
The (Smart) Tolling Device
The tolling device has experienced multiple evolutions in the last two decades. It began as a transponder holding a minimum of vehicle attribute information. It was an invasive box lodged somewhere inside the vehicle either on the windshield or inside the glovebox. Today, it is an intelligent interactive device capable of interacting with both the driver and the central tolling server simultaneously. Today’s tolling device is a hybrid device which can work with both satellite-based tolling systems and microwave-based tolling systems making it inter-operable across multiple toll countries. It comes embedded with a high-speed data connectivity module, which make the device capable of:
- Knowing the vehicle location,
- Recording vehicle movement, speed and vehicle idling,
- Measuring the operating temperature,
- Alerting the driver of any anomalies that defy preset rules,
- Receiving a text message,
- Recording real-time changes to the vehicle attributes and communicate changes to the central tolling application, and
- Locating another Bluetooth-enabled device to communicate with.
When AI is added, the tolling device becomes a powerful virtual assistant similar to Alexa. The days of it being a simple box have been left behind. The intelligence the tolling device brings to the fleet solutions ecosystem opens many new possibilities. EETS providers (European Electronic Toll Service) can build value-added services (VAS) for the fleets to better optimize operations. The VAS offered by EETS providers serve as suitable alternatives to some of the telematics solutions available in the market, which might not be easily accessible to the smaller fleets due to cost and installation complexities, thereby adding more options and choices for the fleets and leading the way for progressive developments in fleet solutions domain.
MSTS Tolls: Perspective for the Future
The future is exciting in the European tolling space. As a registered EETS provider in Europe nearly ready to launch EETS services with our interoperable tolling device, MSTS Tolls places the intelligence of the tolling device at the core of our EETS product build. There is a multitude of VAS services in place for customers, in addition to the core tolling services. MSTS Tolls customers can expect a high level of intuitiveness and a superior user experience in our EETS product offerings for both the core tolling service and the value-added services. It’s an exciting time to focus on EETS products.