After the North Carolina Turnpike Authority(NCTA) achieved toll interoperability with Florida’s SunPass® in July 2013 and Georgia’s Peach Pass® in November 2014, its next step was to promote NC Quick Pass® transponder ownership as an opportunity for customers to pay lower toll rates across the U.S. east coast. NCTA’s outreach campaign offered users a more convenient customer experience, with quicker, more reliable mobility than they would achieve without a transponder. In April 2015, the Authority formed a promotional partnership with the Durham Bulls—a local baseball team, and the most popular sports franchise in the North Carolina Triangle—to build customer and brand awareness. Much of the campaign focused on reaching Bill by Mail customers through a table presence at 11 Bulls games between April and August, combined with print advertising and email marketing, in an effort to promote transponder use. In June NCTA and NC Quick Pass® began distributing 200,000 promotional inserts with paper invoices mailed to North Carolina residents. The insert offered users savings of up to 35 percent, plus the ability to pay their tolls effortlessly in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and all states in the E-ZPass® Group.
Customer Service & Marketing Outreach
The Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau introduced its electronic, distance-based toll collection system to increase fairness and equity across the highway network, boost operational efficiency, streamline traffic flow through variable pricing, and deliver superior accuracy. The agency introduced manual and electronic tolling in February 2006, followed by an eTag system in May 2012, and now averages 14 million transactions per day with a tolling accuracy rate of 99.97% and detection accuracy of 99.9%, the world’s highest. The new system consists of 319 single gantries that feature a modular design for rapid deployment. It took only 10 months to install all the gantries, with no on-the-job accidents or loss in quality.
The Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau also won the 2015 President's Award.
Purpose and Objectives
The objective of NTTA’s Toll Enforcement Remedies Program is to ensure equitable payment by all toll road drivers and guarantee fairness to the 92% of customers who pay for their use of the region’s toll roads. As of June 2013, when the Texas Legislature authorized the program by adopting Senate Bill (SB) 1792, violators owed NTTA almost $50 million in unpaid tolls.
Over the short and longer term, the program was designed to:
Reduce the percentage of transactions that are invoiced and never paid to 7.4% in 2014 and 6.5% in 2015; Increase TollTag use to 80% in 2013 and 82% in 2014; Identify previously unmatched and unpursuable transactions; Streamline the collections process for unpaid accounts.
Between June and September 2013, NTTA offered a 90-day grace period to habitual violators. To encourage payment, the agency waived administrative fees on past due tolls for any customer who opened a new TollTag account or resolved an outstanding TollTag account balance.
- 50% decrease in habitual violators using toll roads
During the 90-day grace period:
- More than 694,000 calls received
- More than 71,200 front counter customers served
- 22% year-over-year increase in new TollTags distributed
- More than $4.7 million in past-due tolls collected
- More than $4.4 million obligated in 5,300 customer payment plans to settle outstanding toll bills.
NTTA grounded the three-year project in a commitment to fairness and meaningful consequences for drivers who routinely use the agency’s toll roads without paying for their use. In 2012, the Authority launched a communications and outreach project to encourage toll payment and build support for tougher toll enforcement legislation. The three-pronged strategy included a “Pay Up” education campaign targeting toll scofflaws, legislative education supported by key strategic partnerships and alliances, and legislative action to formally define habitual violators, then block their vehicle registrations and ban them from toll roads until their tolls are paid.
Thanks to the Toll Enforcement Remedies Program, millions of dollars collected from unpaid tolls help the North Texas Tollway Authority maintain high-quality roads and invest in much-needed transportation infrastructure across the region. The three-month grace period at the beginning of the program resulted in more than $9 million in collections and payment plans, boosted enforcement awareness among all TollTag and ZipCash customers, improved the consistency of toll enforcement remedies across Texas, and strengthened NTTA’s relationship with stakeholders and legislators.
By collaborating with tolling entities across the state, NTTA developed a consistent, universal approach to ensure payment across all customer groups. The program is a roadmap for improving tolling operations, for NTTA and all other toll businesses, providing a template for agencies to:
- Keep faith with customers who consistently pay their tolls
- Ensure due process for habitual violators and accountability for the agency
- Provide expanded opportunities for prior notice and payment
- Improve customer access to all-electronic toll tags.
Agency Contact: Kimberly Jackson, Senior Director of Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobility in the Atlanta metro area has been a challenge for the region for many years. The need for new mobility choices is evident throughout the region. The previous I-85 HOV lanes consistently operated over capacity and did not provide reliable travel times for motorists. In particular, the I-85 corridor has limited transit options as well as physical constraints that make it unrealistic to add new capacity to the corridor due to minimal shoulder width and development all along both sides of the expressway.
The I-85 Express Lanes project was designed to provide for a more reliable trip along with free access provided to transit, carpools of three or more, on-call emergency vehicles and alternate fuel vehicles with the appropriate license plate. Transit enhancements were also a key component of the project as the lion’s share of the Congestion Reduction Demonstration (CRD) grant went to transit expansion in the corridor. These goals provided most of the travelers on I-85 with an option to use the Express Lanes for a faster trip when needed. Before the Express Lanes opening, single occupant motorists were not able to use the HOV lane, therefore they were forced to use the general purpose lanes at all times.
The I-85 Express Lanes project demonstrated excellence in several ways. The partnership between GDOT, GRTA and SRTA was unparalleled and afforded major milestones to be accomplished without the typical bureaucratic “red tape” that plagues government agencies when implementing major projects. In addition, every staff member at SRTA understood their role in the project and were all striving towards a common goal. This helped to keep morale at an all-time high in the agency and promoted camaraderie amongst all staff. The successes and lessons learned from the project have been documented and shared with numerous tolling entities across the nation. SRTA has led various sessions on how to implement a HOT lane project, specifically providing details on the marketing and communications campaign strategies.
The TxTag Fleet Program provides customers that have large vehicle fleets with efficient and cost-effective solutions, while ensuring toll revenues are collected. The program focused on the implementation of back-office systems to address the requirements for rental agency fleets. The program looked at the collection of payments for outstanding Pay By Mail account balances, and obtained approval of a fee negotiation policy to enable TxDOT to offer more reasonable fee settlement amounts. TxDOT designed the TxTag Fleet Program as a license plate-based, pre-paid account where tolls post at the Pay By Mail rate to account for image-based transaction processing costs. The program also provides customers with the option to forego the purchase of transponders, significantly reducing the overhead costs associated with managing them. This program, combined with the continued pursuit of unpaid violations, resulted in approximately $3.56M in toll and fee revenue collection.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission developed three web-based programs to help improve communications with customers and internal staff. Alone, each was an effective package. However, integrated and used together, they make a powerful Communications Management Suite (CMS) that improves customer service, increases efficiencies and provides a potential new revenue source for the Commission. The first phase of the CMS was “TRIP” (Turnpike Roadway Information Program) a first generation automated travel advisory system. The PTC has expanded TRIP – added a customer contact and tech dispatch system, made use of mobile devices, social networking and cloud computing to create this suite of programs. Each of the new programs rests on the same web-based technology platform which was built in an expandable and modular fashion. Each has a mobile app or telephony component that leverages cloud technologies. Each program has components that improve work/cost efficiencies. Two of the programs have the potential for revenue generation. The three integrated programs in the CMS are:
(1) Customer Assistance Center Ticketing Utility System (CACTUS). CACTUS is a customized ticketing system that interfaces customer inquiries and trouble reports with PTC depts and functions. What makes CACTUS different from other ticketing systems is that it is integrated with other initiatives and serves as an overall controller.
(2) TRIP II – The Next Generation. TRIP was designed to improve customer service by disseminating travel conditions through a web map/web site, via email/text alerts, on VMS signs, and through an interactive voice response (IVR) dial-in phone line.
(3) Reports from the Road Crews (REPORTS). REPORTS is a web and telephony-based tool for PTC maintenance staff to report weather/roadway conditions while on the road. A Blackberry Application allows crews to enter conditions and view other reported conditions. It allows managers to view/approve reports from virtually anywhere. Reported conditions are automatically stored in the system and can be viewed by staff or crews for proactive response. Conditions are disseminated to the public via the TRIP II system. These three programs, made possible by leveraging new technologies, work in an integrated fashion to improve timeliness and accuracy of roadway reports to the public, to manage tech dispatch and repair tracking and provide a potential for producing revenue.
The challenges facing the United States economy have created enormous pressure and hardship for all business. The tolling industry has also been swept up in this challenge. Rising fuel prices, loss of investment capital, unavailable highway dollars, and increasing unemployment have created an often chaotic and difficult operating environment. The NTTA, has a responsibility to deliver to service to their customers and stakeholders regardless of the economic environment. The NTTA is committed to providing the “highest level of service for the least amount of cost that is valuable for its customers and responsible for the NTTA. Having committed to an All Electronic Tolling (ETC) strategy, the NTTA customer experience has become a much larger challenge. The elimination of toll booths, the implementation of ZipCash payment systems and new facilities have put increased volume and pressure on all customer touch points. These include call center services, storefront TollTag stores, IVR, Web site and roadway customer service. A 20% increase in customer contact volume in uncharted electronic tolling waters risked stretching the limits of the customer service infrastructure. The NTTA needed to respond to these challenges yet be responsible in an economic environment where survival was paramount and not growth and innovation. Seeking a solution to the pressure of providing value added services with less resources and capital, NTTA turned to an unlikely partner: their customers. NTTA put their “customers to work” providing advice, coaching employees, auditing customer experience and training NTTA personnel. And not just a “couple” of customers helping out “every once and a while”, thousands of NTTA customers provide valuable coaching, advice and insight daily throughout the agency. Utilizing a technology platform called CDM (Customer Driven Management), NTTA can access customer’s 24x7 for input. What is significant is this platform solution crosses all levels of the organization and most importantly is provided individually. Customers are working in tandem with NTTA managers and front-line supervisors. This means that in some instances hundreds of customers are assisting one individual (and their manager) in addressing a specific performance area by providing coaching, advice, encouragement and training. This customer engagement is unparalleled in the tolling industry and the private sector as well. The impact is seen in reduced expenses, customer loyalty, streamlined process, changed behavior and perhaps most importantly a dramatically improved customer experience. Imagine - Customers and a public agency working together for the people of North Texas. Partnering with their customers is not a new concept for the NTTA. NTTA for the past three years has engaged their customers in a unique “Mystery Driver” program. Unlike most mystery shopper programs engaged around the world NTTA uses their actual customers to provide feedback and direction for the agency. In addition to synchronizing with customers, the NTTA also leverages CDM to facilitate virtual focus groups. The NTTA was considering two sign designs to communicate a rate change based on vehicle axles. Instead of using a traditional focus group, the NTTA was able to use this technology to get feedback regarding the two signs. These customers viewed the designs online and provided enough detailed feedback and advice that the NTTA was able to produce a third and final design that is in place today. A similar process was utilized that was able to produce a third and final design that is in place today. This process ensured clear invoice changes were made that customers would understand. These two instances alone save tens of thousands of dollars in traditional focus group costs as well as reducing contact volumes and their associated costs. NTTA increased their level of service at a minimal cost. This solution transformed NTTA’s perspective on customer service.
As with many accomplishments in Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) made the impossible possible, and set a few world records along the way. Salik, meaning open or clear in Arabic, is Dubai’s new all electronic, open road tolling (ORT) system. It is a free flow tolling system operating at highway speeds with no plazas, gates, or other impediments to traffic flow. It is maintained completely above the road from walkways inside the cladded gantries, requiring no road closures for regular maintenance. Salik also features the world’s widest free flow tolling zone -- at 40.3 meters (132 feet), spanning 7 ORT lanes in a single direction. Not only was the Salik turnkey toll system deployed in less than a year from study through revenue collection, it deployed technologies not previously attempted in toll collection. These world-record technological advancements clearly represent excellence and extraordinary achievement within the world's transportation industry.
Good to Go! Marketing Program and Customer Service Center Opening In April 2006, Washington state launched its new Good To Go! electronic toll collection program with a two-year public outreach and marketing campaign. The success of the new $849 million Tacoma Narrows Bridge hinged on getting at least 50% of opening-day morning commuters to use electronic tolling in order to keep traffic flowing. National tolling experts doubted this ambitious goal could be achieved. On opening morning, 73% of the peak commute drivers used the electronic toll lanes, breaking all records for a new toll facility.
In 2006, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) opened the fi rst toll roads in the Austin area and introduced a new state-of-the-art electronic toll tag, named TxTag. User-paid roadways were completely new to the area, and potential customers were generally not aware of modern toll methods and their convenience. Three program decisions led to unprecedented results in the tolling industry: 1) investing in a comprehensive marketing and outreach campaign to educate the public about the new toll roads and TxTag, 2) using pricing and other incentives to encourage people to test drive the new roads and sign on early with the TxTag program, and 3) giving TxTags away free of charge for more than a year. Within a month after tolls were first charged, tag penetration averaged 75 percent daily – 81 percent during peak periods – and there were more than 200,000 funded TxTags installed on vehicles. TxDOT rapidly achieved its goal of converting drivers accustomed to complaining about traffic into customers willing to pay to drive on modern new toll roads.
With a goal of increasing productivity and improving customer services through employee involvement, the E-470’s mission was to evoke a culture change that would enhance toll operations by utilizing business analytics and employee commitment. Applying process analysis and quality measurements such as Six Sigma and Lean Speed to isolate operational inefficiencies, the objective was to focus on these identified areas and maximize productivity by employing creative measurement techniques in a dynamic, competitive team environment that rewards for success.
In 2003, Delaware Department of Transportation took over the management of Delaware’s E-ZPass program. Delaware’s decision to take on the administration of its own E-ZPass program and to build an in-state Customer Service Center that would provide its customers real people to talk to, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sets a new benchmark in customer service. In addition to providing the live 24/7 services, the Department also developed a highly functional Internet site where most customer service functions can be accomplished, as well as four walk-in centers and a mobile service center vehicle to ensure maximum accessibility. DelDOT has seen an amazing 55% increase in the E-ZPass customer base and better than 60% ETC penetration during rush hour!
The FTE reached its goal of increasing SunPass transponder sales by implementing an aggressive marketing campaign. The Enterprise’s project focused on making the SunPass more accessible to the public by expanding sales to two retail stores. Within a short period of time, the Turnpike Enterprise’s initial sales goals had been exceeded and consequently SunPass participation had increased significantly.
In 2001 a rest stop was established for heavy vehicles with capacity for 21 semis and 15 trucks. Facilities include restrooms, showers, a laundry facility and security service free of charge. A calendar of health campaigns were then instituted to educate truck drivers about cholesterol, how to prevent back pain, diabetes, etc. Participants also underwent pre-consultations with a nurse and were given tests including blood pressure, cholesterol and glycemia. The area also offered vaccines ranging from Hepatitis B vaccine to flu vaccines. Over the course of two years, the center has provided care for 3, 357 people.
Like many toll facilities, the Maine Turnpike Authority has operated throughout its history in a political environment in which opinions regarding the very concept of a user fee highway sway from appreciative to disdainful, depending on the particular project or issue at hand. This volatility and the fact that toll facilities are enormously easy political targets has made it difficult for agencies to pursue important long-term initiatives and improvements without fearing that the tide may soon turn, causing projects to be disrupted and resources to be lost. The Maine Turnpike Widening project had been subjected to nearly 30 years of punishing political tidal shifts, resulting in two statewide referendums and several costly starts and stops. Having finally received statewide voter approval to move forward the Turnpike Authority was determined to advance the project in a way that would not only relieve public anxieties about the project at hand, but would strengthen public confidence and trust in the Authority's ability to undertake future projects and initiatives.