Unifying our toll road systems
Congress hoped to have all tolls systems interoperable by 2016 and the good news is we’re close.
“Ninety-five percent of toll transactions are already interoperable,” said Pat Jones, CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, or IBTTA.
He said the problem with not meeting that 2016 deadline set by Congress is that there was no direction attached to that deadline.
“They said this should happen, they didn’t say who should do it, they didn’t say how it’s going to be paid for,” said Jones. “They simply said this needs to happen.”
As far as funding slowing things down, Jones said over the years toll agencies have been mostly paying for the changes you’ve seen or will see. That includes being able to use the same toll tag within a region, the Northeast is the largest.
“There’s interoperability now between 17 states and 37 agencies extending from North Carolina to Maine and as far west as Illinois so it’s already happening, the challenge is simply knitting together the other regions of interoperability,” said Jones.
He says lastly the challenge will be in making sure the toll system you pass through in Maryland is like the system you pass through in California when it comes to debiting your account.
As far as a timeline to when we might see this happen, Jones was hesitant to give a hard deadline, but said it will likely take a few more years.
As far as how this delay is being handled on the congressional level, we reached out to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. They said:
“The deadline Congress enacted in MAP-21, to promote national toll interoperability, was crystal clear. The deadline has come and gone with little result because under current law no party is held responsible for inaction. The Committee is looking at this issue and various other issues surrounding tolling as part of surface transportation reauthorization.”
We also reached out to the Federal Highway Administration. They said while the legislation from Congress did not require any specific action from the FHWA, they are working with IBTTA to help achieve the goal of interoperability.