Ambassador Bridge to go cashless AET with 6C sticker tags, cameras
By Peter Samuel
2012-09-12: The Ambassador Bridge, the highest volume toll crossing between the US and Canada will go all-electronic (AET) at the first of three toll points before the end of the month. Trucks inbound sporting 6C sticker tags on their windshields will be tolled with the latest Sirit IDentity 6204 readers or they'll be photographed by JAI cameras front, rear, and side view and billed by mail.
They've been testing systems at the truck inbound toll point for several weeks according to lead company engineer Randy Spader who sent us pictures of the first of three two-lane gantry they've built for open road tolling.
Dan Stamper, company manager told us they are shooting to eliminate cash toll collection for tolling trucks outbound mid-November, and passenger cars and other vehicles inbound and outbound sometime next year.
Vehicle detection and tracking through the toll zone is being performed by loops and vehicle classification by a combination of Mettler Toldeo weigh-in-motion equipment and cameras. They're able to classify using both axle count and weight.
Spader and a couple of others at the bridge company do all the system integration in-house.
Fourth iteration of electronic tolling has 6C MPR
They've gone through four iterations of electronic tolling or RFID (radio frequency identification):
- the Amtech ATA passive backscatter in the 1990s
- Mark IV Badger readers and E-ZPass protocol tags (without ever being part of E-ZPass)
- 6C tags with the 5000 series Sirit readers
- 6C tags with 6204 multiprotocol readers (MPR)
An FSTech official told us the Ambassador Bridge was the first toll operator in North America to deploy 6C readers and tags back in 2009. Spader says they found the Badger readers tricky to manage and find the Sirit readers easier to handle.
Single protocol to latest MPR
They recently swapped out the 5000 series Sirit readers for the 6204s for their ability to read any of the toll protocols in use in north America.
Spader says their tolling - all on the US side - is effectively at three points:
- inbound trucks
- inbound cars
- all vehicles outbound
At each of these they have 2-lane sections of roadway that work for open road toll points, so they're doing six toll lanes without any shoulders needing coverage.
Stamper says they want to have the technical capability to read E-ZPass transponders, and they have that with the new 6204 readers. They looked at E-ZPass procedures for clearing tolls among the various tollers and decided that for now it is too cumbersome and expensive for the moment.
Tags being given away
With 6C they can afford to give tags away. The duty free stores and fueling points will be the main places motorists can get the tags.
There is no mention yet of any of this on their website. They've got over 50% usage of the 6C tags without any promotion. But he said they do plan to market the tags in the near future, and allow them to be ordered online
Toll collectors displaced by the move? Stamper says: "We will look for other jobs that they may be able to fill."
Major aim is to speed traffic and reduce toll collection costs. He has no worries about their ability to collect the tolls.