Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Future Trends

Innovations in transport policy are seeding innovations in the technologies used for Electronic Payment Systems (EPS) and their applications. For example:

  • declining revenues from traditional sources – such as fuel tax and shortfalls in public spending on transport infrastructure – are jointly contributing towards a future where ‘user pays’ is becoming more significant
  • new means of sharing transport capacity (such as car sharing and hourly rentals) is driving the need for on-demand services and customised services to travellers
  • the feasibility of new transport fuels (such as electricity) is creating a demand for Methods of Payment (MOPs) to pay the suppliers, such as at electric charging service providers

Other changes are a consequence of technological progress. Interoperability means that a Method of Payment (MOP) may be used for more services in a greater number of locations. Interoperability also paves the way for 3rd party payment service providers, allowing road operators and public transport operators to focus on their main business of improving the delivery efficiency of their own transport services (See Intelligence in Transport).

Technologies that enable data storage and secure communications also enable improved process accuracy, integrity and auditability – critical components of any EPS. Advances in mobile telephony include increased geographic coverage and the emergence of smart phones, with new communications media such as Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE or Bluetooth 4.0). All this means that more individuals can now access public and private transport services to plan their journeys at any time, wherever they are located, and pay for such services with a mobile phone.

Current trends from developed and developing nations suggest that travellers have never been better informed on the status of the road network, modal choice, expected costs and journey times. The successful and broad introduction of non-cash MOPs for tolling and public transport services have also accelerated the development of customer relations, not previously possible with cash-based payments. The same trends mean that transport service providers are also better informed about their customers.

Policy-related Developments

Trends in transport policy may lead to a radical revaluation of how roads are financed. A nationwide ‘user pays’ policy is now possible based on EPS applied to paying a fee to use any public road, differentiated by Time, Distance and Place (TDP). This approach requires the location of vehicles to be estimated accurately enough to ensure that a user pays the correct fee – and the same fee for repeated journeys. Continued developments in satellite-based positioning means that a vehicle can be now equipped with an On Board Unit (OBU) that will estimate its own position from triangulation with one or more satellite constellations. The OBU determines the section of the road on which the vehicle is travelling and whether it lies within a charging zone.

Recent developments provide confidence that road user charges may be accurately based on time, distance and place in the urban environment as well as on interurban roads. This may enable alternative means of taxing the ownership and use of vehicles – potentially a replacement for traditional taxes on vehicle ownership and on fuel. Trials were conducted in Singapore from 2012 to 2013 and also in Puget Sound, USA. (See: Traffic Choices Study – Summary Report 2013 by Puget Sound Regional Council, available for download at:

Charging for road usage has been applied to Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) operating in Switzerland since 1999. In future on-board equipment for measuring the mass of a vehicle’s load could enable HGV movements to be regulated based on actual weight rather than a manufacturer’s declared weight. By way of example, regulations that include an allowance for measured mass are to be included in the Intelligent Access Program (IAP), administered by Transport Certification Australia (TCA). (See: Intelligent Access Program

Other developments for HGVs could ensure efficient utilisation of restricted routes and loading / unloading areas, by requiring HGV operators to reserve loading bay spaces(See Operations & Fleet Management). This has been demonstrated in the European Cooperative Vehicle Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) project.

Impact of Mobile and personal technologies

Advances in mobile telephony mean that more individuals have the potential to plan their journeys before they travel - wherever they are located - and pay for such services with a mobile phone. Also, as transport networks become more tightly woven into the fabric of our cities, and as roads and public transport networks lead to closer economic integration between regions and across borders, travellers are also becoming better informed on modal choice.

These developments are made possible by increased geographic coverage of 3rd and 4th generation of cellular networks (3G and 4G), the take-up of smart phones, new communications media such as Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth 4.0) and other communications technologies that make efficient use of radio spectrum. Rapid improvements in satellite-based location may also be used to deliver location-based services or more refined means of charging for road use.


Based on recent trials, pilots and studies, the list below provides a selection of emerging trends in EPS:

  • the feasibility to replace vehicle usage or vehicle ownership taxes with distance-related charges, currently being trialled in Seattle (US), driven by the need to replace income from traditional (declining) sources;
  • refinements to congestion charging schemes to allow for a greater precision in varying charges based on a vehicle’s location in the urban environment (enabled by improvements in the position accuracy of GNSS), indicated by Singapore’s System Evaluation and Test (SET) trials in 2012-2013
  • expansion of city-wide integrated ticketing schemes to include national transport service providers (enabled by agreements between operators and city authorities)
  • the reduced use of cash on public transport could permit cash to be eliminated completely and instead passengers would be required to have a non-cash MOP (In London less than 1% of bus journeys were paid in cash in 2012/2013 – see consultation by Transport for London August 2013: Going cashless on TfL bus services
  • interoperability of tolling systems across national borders, as shown by the EETS model in Europe (enabled by regional consensus and the desire for closer economic union)
  • interoperability to permit transport and road operation to be separated from account management and billing, which will lead to increasing specialisation, VAS and competitively provided transport services, as shown in Ireland’s implementation of EETS for tolling, parking and other services
  • the greater use of Emissions-related charging in cities and regions to incentivise low emission vehicles, such as the London Low Emission Zone, Milan’s congestion charging scheme and over 30 city schemes in Germany (See: Transport for London )
  • the emergence of the mobile phone as secure payment platform by MNOs and 3rd parties to provide public transport users with a MOP for bike sharing, hourly car hire, EV charging and a range of value added services
  • development of novel on-board computing platforms to host EPS application, and the introduction of in-vehicle sensors to measure a vehicle’s weight, the number of occupants and other dynamic measurements and demonstrated by the European CVIS project (See European CVIS project)
  • the emergence of the car as a connected applications platform that is able to provide improved information to drivers as well as interfaces to services that depend on EPS, such as parking reservation services and the payment of tolls
  • new means of regulating HGVs to reduce harmful emissions in urban areas and incentivising voluntary compliance with the rules for HGV to access the road network
  • increasing environmental concerns and the search for a viable business case for alternative fuelled vehicles are driving the growth of EV usage and the potential to combine in-road inductive charging with payment for the service whilst driving as demonstrated in trials in the Japan, Sweden, UK and US



European Commission (2011) Guide for the Application of the Directive on the Interoperablity of Electronic Road Toll Systems, available for download at:

Morris, R. (2006)  Fuel Tax and Alternatives for Transportation Funding TRB Special Report 285. US Transportation Research, Washington DC, USA.

California Department of Transportation Division of Research and Innovation (2013) Preliminary Investigation, Alternative Transportation Financing Strategies, California, USA.

Curry, A. et al. (2006) Intelligent Infrastructure Futures – The Scenarios – Towards 2055, pp28-45. Foresight Directorate, UK Office of Science and Technology.

Puget Sound Regional Council (2010) Transportation 2040, towards a sustainable transportation system, Puget Sound Regional Council Information Center, pp46-49 available for download at:

Kompfner, P. et al. (2014). Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) Mobility 2.0 – The New Cooperative era. ERTICO – ITS Europe, Brussels, Belgium.

Reference sources

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