HOT lanes get more transponder options - TransCore details sticker tag disabler

October 6, 2010
By Peter Samuel

TransCore this week announced they've gained a patent on a sticker tag disabler for use on HOT lanes. It consists of a shaped metal cover plate (see picture nearby) that with hook & loop - commonly called 'velcro' - can be attached to the back of the tag.  It has a groove designed to bridge the ASIC or 'chip' of the sticker tag and to position it correctly.

Attached over the back of the sticker tag the metallic mass of the cover kills the antenna performance to the point where the tag cannot be read. That's for when the motorist wants to 'declare' themselves (himself/herself) a carpool and not to be tolled. When the transponder is to be used without eligibility for a free ride the metal cover plate is simply removed from the back of the tag and stowed in a glover box or other handy place.

The number of toll express, variably priced, managed or HOT lanes - all are essentially the same - is growing steadily and with it the demand for a methodology for distinguishing a tollable from a toll-free vehicle.

A few full toll facilities - the San Francisco Bay Area bridges are an example - offer carpools free trips also.

Common to all these is that the same vehicle with the same transponder on the windshield may be used on the same road for a tolled trip one day and a toll-free trip the next.

Many methodologies

There are many different ways of handling this.

1. separate lanes at the toll-point. The Bay area bridges have separate toll and toll-free lanes. 91 Express Lanes give a discounted toll to HOV3+ carpools in peak hours and free trips other times. They have two travel lanes per direction for most of their 10 miles, 16km, but around the toll zone this widens to three lanes, the third lane being signed for HOV3+. Downside of this approach is the extra pavement and gantry needed plus the slowing effect on traffic flow of the merge beyond the toll point.

2. RF resistant bag - various metallic foil bags work to block the radio signals of the overhead toll reader. This works for transponders that are easily removed and placed back on the windshield and that either have a velcro hook & loop attachment or some kind of cradle from which they can be removed and replaced.

But the metal baggie is not the most elegant solution! Transponders get lost in the vehicle or forgotten.

And it absolutely doesn't work for sticker tags the ISO 18000 6B, 6C and eGo, eGo+ tags. These are permanently and closely adhered to the windshield and indeed use the windshield as an extension of the metal antenna in the thin plastic of the sticker proper.

3. a switch on the face of the hardcase transponder. Transurban want a transponder with a switch on E-ZPass transponders issued in northern Virginia on the Capital Beltway toll lanes under construction between the Springfield Interchange and Tysons Corner. Their supplier Mark IV has a switchable E-ZPass transponder in development for this and other HOT lanes in E-ZPass country, a Mark IV officer told us today.

Federal Signal's Sirit division has a California Title 21 protocol transponder with a 3-way switch on its face. That allows SOV, HOV2 and HOV3+ to be declared with a slide switch.

Kapsch with 5.9GHz and a wired-in transponder goes one better with a switch and a display.

ASTMv6 cradle switch for MnPass

ASTMv6 time division multiplexing transponders with the brand MnPass supplied by Wireless Telematics in Israel for the toll/managed lanes in the Minneapolis metro area have a cradle with an ingenious switch. The cradle firmly fixed to the windshield depresses a spring contact switch on the transponder to activate it when firmly pushed in.

It switches the transponder off when it is moved half an inch or so out of the cradle. But it is still held close by, positioned ready for easy reactivation.

Switch on a sticker

We thought a switchable sticker tag was a physical impossibility.

The thin flexible sticker material seems too flimsy to carry a physical switch.

Not so, says Neology.

They've got a a switchable sticker tag - an ISO 18000 6C - in the works.

It makes use of a tiny circular toggle or on-off pressure switch of the kind used in some bank cards, notably those from Incard.

These carry a tiny display also.

The display could be used to indicate the mode selected.

Neology have patents in the works for their switchable 6C sticker tag.

Simple Samuel Solution

Also seeking patents is the Samuel's Simple Solution (S3) which declares:

"To hell with those freeloaders, charge 'em all the same toll - no switches, no special lanes, no signage or complicated marketing required. OUR PITCH: one toll price fits all, an end to special favors."

TransCore patent:

http://www.tollroadsnews.com/sites/default/files/Patent7782206.doc

Sirit T21 3-way:

http://www.tollroadsnews.com/sites/default/files/T21threesomeSwitch.pdf

see Neology's approach:

http://www.incard.com/products-ictkey.html

TOLLROADSnews 2010-10-06

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