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All-Electronic Tolling: It’s All in the Applications

By: 
Bill Cramer

An interview with Stephan Andriuk, Deputy Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and Chief Meeting Organizer of IBTTA’s Summit on All-Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes and Interoperability, July 21-23, 2013 in Denver. In this interview, he talks about the ideas, innovations, and professional networks that will make this year’s Summit a watershed event.

What do you see as the most important technology developments in all-electronic tolling over the last year?

The most important advance is in our thinking about technology. We’ve gone beyond the hardware and software in the box to look at how we apply knowledge for a practical purpose. With all-electronic tolling (AET) technology, that means learning from our experience, trials, and tribulations to deliver a transportation solution that is cleaner, safer, faster, and fairer.

On the applications side of technology, that’s the whole point. You learn from experience, then you fine-tune it again and learn some more, until you reach the optimal level of efficiency.

How is that learning process reflected in the program for this year's AET Summit?

We’ll start out with a year in review session that recaps the strategic developments the industry has undertaken to meet the MAP-21 mandate of nation-wide interoperability. Then the Summit itself is broken down into separate tracks that capture the three key factors in AET and interoperability: operations and technology, finance and policy, and managed lanes.

We know that managed lanes are a hot, hot topic. It’s just coming out of the woodwork everywhere we look—or coming out of the concrete, actually.

DOTs and toll agencies are moving forward with entire managed lane networks because they have to meet increasing traffic demand, without the luxury of having the right of way to expand. When you can’t build capacity, you’ve got to manage with what you’ve got. So if you’re thinking of doing anything with managed lanes, this summit is for you.

We also have a general session on the human resource issues that come up when agencies convert to AET. A lot of people are afraid that we’re taking away jobs in this economy, but there are solutions. We’ll hear from agencies that have done the retraining and given long-term employees the continuity to move from their previous job to the next one.

What have tolling agencies done to keep the public onboard with the introduction of AET systems?

We’ll be hearing about that at a special general session where some of the AET pioneers answer actual questions from their customers. From Florida to Georgia, Texas, and California, we’ve pre-taped conversations with customers on the street, and we’ll air a local investigative news report from Miami.

Denver will be inviting actual road users to attend the session in person. The key here is customer service and listening to all our stakeholders. That’s fundamental in any industry, and tolling isn’t any different.

What interoperability news and learning opportunities should participants be looking for during the Summit?

The biggest opportunity is to remember that you’re a participant, not an attendee. We have broad general sessions on Days 1 and 3 of the Summit, with focused breakout topics on Day 2, so everyone who attends can build their own agenda to meet their own information needs. It’s up to each individual to pick the sessions they need and play an active part by asking questions from the floor.

You know the Q&A is going to be a highlight of any IBTTA conference, because even with four or five subject matter specialists on a panel, there are hundreds of other experts in the audience. Once the conversation gets going, it’s hard to stop—we usually run out of time in the sessions, and then the discussion rolls over into the hallways. You’ll find the program for the 2013 AET Summit on the IBTTA website.