Massachusetts rolling out 'all-electronic' turnpike tolling
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will soon install an All-Electronic Tolling (AET) system on the western Massachusetts Turnpike and several regional bridges and tunnels.
The AET system would replace both manual cash tolls and existing electronic toll systems, according to the Raytheon, which was awarded the $130 million contract. Existing E-ZPass transponders will work on the new AET system, but for drivers without an E-ZPass, the system will use a high-speed camera to capture the vehicle’s license plate number. Then a bill is sent in the mail for $3, plus a 50-cent convenience charge.
The state recently launched an AET system this summer at the Tobin Bridge across the Mystic River into Boston, which was considered a trial run for extending the technology to the entire Massachusetts turnpike system by the summer of 2016.
"Hundreds of thousands of drivers will benefit from faster toll booth transactions and fewer lane closures,” said Bob Delorge, vice president, Raytheon, C4I Systems.
The firm said the AET system, by enabling drivers to maintain speed through tolling areas, would cut congestion as well as vehicle emissions from the slow-downs at many conventional toll plazas.
The installation process is expected to begin in April 2015 and continue through December 2015.
Raytheon claims the world's first AETS, on the 407 Express Toll Route in Toronto, Canada, in 1997. Since then it introduced new features, including “dynamically priced AET,” whereby toll prices are continually adjusted according to traffic conditions to maintain a free-flowing level of traffic.
New England is the site of other automated tolling projects, including efforts by states to adopt a universal or interoperable tolling transponder. With a universal system, drivers can receive the benefits of electronic tolling across neighboring jurisdictions.
Efforts are also underway to develop smartphone apps to support electronic tolls. One company, GeoToll, is working on an app that would allow users to pay tolls via their cellphones anywhere across the country.
The solution, still being tested, “combines a smartphone and today’s electronic toll collection tag protocols into one device that allows you to use your smartphone as a toll tag anywhere in the United States,” Tim McGuckin, CEO, told Toll Road News earlier this year.
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