E-ZPass Group makes major moves for national interoperability - affiliate membership, publication specs
By Peter Samuel
2012-07-17: The E-ZPass Group has formally agreed to major moves towards national interoperability in electronic tolling. They passed an amendment to their standard operating agreement at a recent monthly meeting to accommodate outside toll systems as 'Affiliate Members' a new status that won't require them to comply with all the detailed technical specifications and procedures required of full Members of E-ZPass.
A statement issued today by the E-ZPass Group says: "In the next few weeks, the E-ZPass Group will make available to other industry organizations all of the file specifications, business rules, test plans and other data that have enabled E-ZPass to become the world-wide leader in interoperability over the past 17 years. This sharing of information, through a dedicated interoperability portal on the E-ZPass website will assist other toll agencies in advancing interoperability between systems."
The announcement envisages that: "Interoperability will enable customers to use a single electronic toll tag collection system transponder along multiple toll roads by making equipment compatible. Toll payments would be made from the collecting agency to the agency or agencies whose toll was registered on the user's account, making the toll collection system easy and seamless to customers."
The E-ZPass Group's attitude used to be: "You are welcome to join us. Here are the specifications for the transponders and readers you must buy and the business rules and procedures you will follow in electronic toll collection."
You were a full member or nothing.
That's changing, or is supposed to change, with the newly instituted Affiliate Membership.
Major state toll systems with multiple toll agencies but full in-state interoperability (IOP) but currently no out-of-state IOP include Florida, Texas and California. They are the big candidates with E-ZPass for national IOP.
Other major state systems outside E-ZPass are Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Washington.
Oklahoma modernized to E6 multimodal readers two years ago and is in process of converting to the most advanced 6B sticker tags SEGOs. CORRECTION
Others may at some point convert ISO 18000 6C, the wonder sticker tag that costs $1.50 only and outperforms transponders five to ten times its price.
Colorado, Utah and Washington state are big early 6C adopters.
New electronic toll systems have also been instituted in Utah for toll managed lanes, in Louisiana at the American Roads LLC facilitiers, and at bistate and border crossing toll bridges to Mexico and Canada are other candidates.
New tolling states could be Connecticut which because of its location would probably be a full E-ZPass member, and Kentucky and South Carolina.
The first Affiliate Member of the E-ZPass Group is likely to be North Carolina Turnpike which already sells eZGo Anywhere dual mode transponders that can operate in E-ZPass mode or as TransCore-variant ISO 18000 6B protocol tags that are the major mode in NC.
NCTA also has dual mode readers that can be set to read E-ZPass transponders as well as local 6Bs.
The next big push will be with Florida and interoperability there is sometimes said to be possible by the end of 2013. Much early interoperability will be based on license plate reads and lookups for electronic toll accounts that correspond.
If 3M is successful in developing its new IR-readable unique barcode on license plates the accuracy of cameras would probably increase by an order of magnitude and make that comparable in accuracy and ease of use to RFID (electronic transponder) systems.
In the statement today PJ Wilkins executive director of the E-ZPass Group based in Delaware comments that there is "a significant amount of desire" among motorists for interoperability and similarly in the US Congress. The recent MAP21 surface transport funding law calls for national interoperability in electronic toll systems within four years.
It is left to the industry to decide what that means and how to implement it.
Major IOP conference
A major IBTTA toll industry conference on Interoperability will begin at Loews Hotel in Midtown Atlanta Sunday afternoon and go through Tuesday evening. The Alliance for Toll Interoperability has a follow-on session Wednesday.