Road Network Operations
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Electronic Payment

Author  Andrew Pickford (MVA Hong Kong)

Electronic Payment Systems (EPS) are now widely used for a variety of transport applications. For example:

  • Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) to charge for access to motorways, bridges and tunnels, often applied to specific types of vehicle such as Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs)
  • Automatic Fare Collection (AFC), which is adopted by public transport operators to enable more flexible ticketing, reduce administrative costs, to improve operational management and relationship with passengers

EPS offers major advantages over cash payment:

  • automated collection enables toll roads to be operated more efficiently
  • road users and passengers appreciate the convenience and of cash-free payment
  • public transport service providers have more flexible ticket tariff options
  • privately financed road infrastructure is more attractive to investors because it reduces toll road revenue collection costs
  • it is more flexible than conventional tolling which requires the installation of toll plazas

EPS already plays an important part in the development of integrated transport policies (See Policy Framework Analysis). The planning of individual EPS schemes requires:

  • an understanding of the objectives of the payment system in relation to local, regional and national transport goals – such as ensuring a balance between modes by encouraging greater use of public transport through differential pricing (See Transport Demand Management)
  • the development of a related pricing structure for public transport and tolled routes
  • attention to any city, regional or national ITS architecture in which EPS may feature (See What is ITS Architecture?)

The harmonisation and interoperability of electronic payment systems can support the development of multi-modal, integrated transport – but there are significant challenges in integrating payment systems and data exchange between separate organisations. Essential factors that need to be addressed when implementing EPS across multiple services include:

  • information on user compliance supported by Back-Office arrangements for enforcement against non-compliance
  • interoperability of different EPS deployments
  • standards and interoperability on data exchange within and between organisations

All EPS require efficient and effective Back-Office arrangements to:

  • maximise revenue collection and handle customer accounts
  • minimise losses and safeguard against fraud
  • allows allocation of revenues between beneficiaries (such as different toll road operations and public transport companies)
  • handle enforcement (payment avoidance of various kinds)

EPS is a powerful way of introducing travel demand management and other transport, social and environmental policy objectives – such as selective charging of HGVs which cause disproportionate damage to the roads compared to other vehicles. In the long-term, as public acceptance of EPS grows, its use could be extended to other areas. For example EPS could be used to replace taxes on vehicle ownership and usage (such as fuel tax) with charges that vary according to the time, distance travelled and the places where a vehicle is driven (See Future Trends).  Videos: How Electronic Tolling Works  and  Interoperable Electronic Toll Collection( ETC) on NH-8

Reference sources

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