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2.0 Plaza Operations and Toll Lane Configuration

2.1.3 State of the Practice - Future Systems

From 1989 until 2004, the percentage of tolls collected by electronic toll collection has increased from 0% to 40% or more at almost all US toll facilities. Cash-paying toll traffic constitutes the minority traffic component for many toll facilities. (ETC) usage is even greater during peak hour periods. In the case of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA) and the Illinois Tollway, if the 24-hour ADT percentage of ETC participation is, for example, 50%, the peak hour penetration typically exceeds the ADT figure by 5% to 10%. This can be attributed to the appeal of ETC in improving traffic flow and reducing delays during congested, peak periods. New toll agencies or projects begun after 1990, such as E-470 in Denver, Colorado, TCA in Orange County, California, and Delaware have designed their facilities so cash toll collection could be removed by simply closing the cash lanes.

New toll facilities overseas, and some US facilities are now in operation without provisions for cash toll collection (i.e., no conventional plazas). These existing toll facilities include the following:

Toll Facility Name
Toll Facility Type
Managed Toll Lanes
Orange County, California
407 ETR
Toll Road
Toronto, Canada
City Link
Toll Road
Melbourne, Australia
Westpark Tollway
Toll Road
Houston, Texas
High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes
Minneapolis, Minnesota
High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes
San Diego, California
High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes
Houston, Texas

Research and writing has focused on the fact that cash toll collection requires users to stop their vehicle to pay a toll, and is not popular with the toll road customer base. As ETC becomes more popular and ubiquitous in the future, the existing toll road operators will need to make as many accommodations as possible to provide what their customers are demanding.

The implication here is that a toll agency should not focus on a particular “design” or future percentage of ETC transactions resulting in a required cash toll collection capability to handle the remaining transactions. Rather, all new facilities should be designed to support no more than today’s quantity of cash transactions, and be easily converted to all electronic operations involving ETC supplemented by some form of video tolling or temporary electronic passes to accommodate users without a transponder.

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