ACS, Cofiroute, Egis/InTrans, Fed Signal shortlisted for ATI hubs
By Peter Samuel
Four companies have been shortlisted in the procurement of toll interoperability hubs by the Alliance for Toll Interoperability (ATI): ACS, Cofiroute, Federal Signal and an Egis/CS-Intrans joint venture named Secure Interagency Flow. Eleven groups had proposed so this means seven were dropped.
ACS is the country's largest operator of back office accounting and billing operations, most notably in the E-ZPass area and San Francisco Bay area. It is a fully owned subsidiary of Xerox Corp.
Cofiroute manages the 91 Express lanes in California the country's longest running all-electronic toll facility and has large back office operations in Europe.
Federal Signal is a rather new agglomeration of well established specialist companies including VESystems which has focused on system software including back office.
Egis/CS-InTranS is a European/US partnership that runs most toll back office work in Ireland and other European tollroads.
The shortlisting to four has been done on the basis of the quality of the proposals and the experience of the companies involved. Price for services becomes a factor later.
15 toll agencies including some of the largest plus several consultants are involved in the selection process. In terms of level of involvement and complexity the hub procurement is perhaps the biggest undertaken in the US outside of E-ZPass, the president of ATI J J Eden says.
The quality and seriousness of virtually all the proposals was "impressive," Eden says, and they displayed "a lot of innovation." He declines to say more about the content of the proposals at this stage.
He says there is a lot of excitement about moving forward, and seeing the hubs in action.
Going to three for pilot hubs
Next step is oral presentations in the last week of July for downselecting to three for three pilot hubs to be run simultaneously. That downselect in August, will provide for a start-up of the pilot hubs by the end of September, the pilot hubs to run through December.
January 2012 will see an evaluation of the results of the pilot hub operations, plus consideration of the price proposals of the three.
The January selection of one of the three, or perhaps two, to operate the hub, or hubs, under a longterm contract open to all members of the ATI. One of the toll agencies will act as the contracting entity on behalf of ATI members - an arrangement similar to the way the E-ZPass group operates.
One operational hub most likely for 5 year contract, but 2 or even three possible
Eden told us today he thinks just one hub is most likely to emerge, but if there is the business to support more and the pricing proposals support that, then multiple hubs are possible. The operations contract or contracts are likely to be for five years with a couple of optional 2 year extensions - similar to most back office contracts.
The hub operator will be free to offer related services to tollers such as customer service call centers.
ATI people expect the pricing to be tiered, declining with volume, but this will be up to the proposers.
The details of that tiering of prices will be a major factor in the decision on whether to choose one, or more for the longterm contract.
Toll data to flow from seven tollers to the three pilot hubs
Seven tollers will participate in the pilots September-through-December supplying the hubs with transactions on a daily basis via regular data links. They are: E-470 CO, Florida Turnpike, MdTA, NTTA, Oklahoma Turnpike, TCA Orange Co CA, Washington DOT.
Eleven companies submitted proposals May 24. Those who did not survive the shortlisting were: 3M, BancPass, Cubic, ETC, Highway Toll Admin, Rent-a-Toll, and TransCore.
The hub initiative is key to the future of all-electronic tolling and important for any ungated operation such as open road tolls alongside cash toll lanes, or even dedicated transponder lanes. That's because the greatest costs of collecting tolls comes in handling out-of-area vehicles which either have transponder accounts from another system or no transponder account at all.
Tollers in states like Maine, New Hampshire and Delaware are wary of going all-electronic because of the cost and uncertainties of collecting out-of-area tolls.
The hubs will centralize accessing databases of vehicles and owner addresses and accounts to reduce the costs and improve the efficiency of collecting tolls. They move the toll business towards interoperability by allowing out-of-area traffic into free flow lanes.
Membership of ATI is now 31 comprising 26 state, biststate or local public toll agencies, 4 investor owned toll operators, and one trade association.
Since this list was last updated American Roads LLC and Transurban have joined. American Roads LLC operates the Detroit Windsor Tunnel and toll facilities in gulf coast states. Transurban Ltd operates the Pocahontas Parkway VA and is building toll lanes on the Washington DC Capital Beltway.