NETHERLANDS:Pricing Projects Survive
By Peter Samuel
Dec 20 the Amsterdam local authorities signed onto the pricing projects as part of a package of measures by the national government to improve mobility in the city. The projects include a peak hour morning (7am to 9am) toll of $2.50/$3.50 on the A2 radial from the southeast and on the A4 from the southwest, plus a toll on a reversible express lane on the A1 from the east. The lower toll will be levied on motorists who agree to mount a smartcard interfaced transponder on their windshield and the higher toll will be charged patrons without transponders whose license plate has to be imaged.
Most of the urban motorways in question are 2x3-lanes. A fourth possible project is a harbor tunnel to the north which needs to be twinned. Toll revenues might help finance the project and toll rates could be varied by time of day, van de Pol says.
In Rotterdam two other projects are being examined and discussed. A truck toll lane there was abandoned when the minister took a set against it. In the case of Amsterdam the pricing is part of a package of measures including creation of a regional mobility fund which will take the toll revenues and get contributions from several local governments and service providers. The national government will double the contributions of the others. The fund will be used to feed new public private partnership projects to provide new toll roads and toll lanes.
Van de Pol says there will initially be an emphasis on quick payoff capacity enhancement, especially the peak hour use of shoulder lanes on motorways. The fund will also launch the first phase of an ambitious transit scheme, Regio-Net. A third project to benefit will be a combined road and rail upgrade of eastern access to the Schipol airport, Hollands busiest.
The Dutch have done extensive tests of highway speed open road toll equipment, 5.8GHz gear CEN-278 European standard vehicle-roadside radio, plus license plate imaging. The ring cordon project team studied other tests of equipment and reports a rapid improvement in accuracy rates as compared to tests earlier in the decade in Germany (see graph below.)
Four groups submitted equipment and participated in testing:
Bosch later Kapsch/Philips
Alcatel CGA/ Nederland Haarlem
Alcatel and Bosch/Kapsch/Phillips systems were found wanting, leaving a final choice still to be made between Q-Free/Peek/Brisa, and Siemens/Combitech.
The tests which conducted 80k transponder transactions and 40k imagings showed a major drop-off of accuracy in imaging license plates of vehicles traveling at high speeds in rain conditions. But the Ministry thinks this can be solved by laying porous asphalt in the toll zone to reduce spray.
The team noted that a 1995 test of electronic toll equipment in Germany in 1995 on the A555 showed error rates of 10%. In Singapore they say the error was gotten down to 1%. Now the tests in Holland on the A12 produced error rates of less than 0.1% They expect this to be brought down to 0.01% during refinement of the technology for an installation.
In the tests it was shown that it is possible to process both photographs (of the license plates on both the front and rear of the vehicle) automatically for 75% of the passing vehicles. The margin of error for this process is now less than 0.01%. For the remaining 25% of the vehicles, one or both of the photographs must be processed manually. Manual processing also has a margin of error of less than 0.01%. It is expected that by the time of implementation in 2001, this ratio will have improved further to 80% / 20%.
On the basis of the test results, the transponders should work with an error rate of less than 0.01%, the report says. Similar levels of license plate recognition are extremely difficult to acocmplish.
The accuracy required here has been set at an error rate of less than 0.01%; the techniques now in use world-wide have not been able to achieve an error rate of less than 1%, the report says.
It is however confident that by photographing both the front and the rear of the vehicles incorrect identifications can be filtered out with a very high degree of probability (an error rate of less than 0.01%). This process can to a great extent be carried out automatically.
If Rekeningrijden were introduced in the entire Randstad the four major city area of western Holland the manual processing of 20% of the registered license numbers would require about 20 full-time people. During the system test, 3% of the registered license numbers could not be processed, either automatically or manually. It is expected that the number of vehicle passages for which both license number registrations are unusable or unreadable can be reduced to the value of 0.5% specified in the memorandum on the basis of the report.(Contact Harry van de Pol 31 10 402 6435 email@example.com See TRnl#38 Apr 99 p9, TRnl#39 May 99 p10)
In another innovation the Dutch have demonstrated the worlds first dynamic striping on their A15 motorway. In the peak hours, the shoulder is used as an extra lane, by changing the light-striping in the road: the righthand stripe changes from a continuous stripe into a discontinuous one . The lighting using fiberglass optics, and made by Philips, is set into the roadway. Dutch highway engineers are considering using different lane widths at different times of the day. In free flow conditions they would have say three lanes of 3.75m (124) but in peak hours 4 lanes of 3m (10'). (http://www.minvenw.nl/rws/wnt/iom/dm AdHollander@dzh.rws.minvenw.nl)