If you have followed the New York media lately, you’ll probably know what I’ve been up to. If not, here’s the scoop…
For more than four decades, I have been a fixture in the New York City traffic scene, starting out as a cab driver, then junior engineer with the Traffic Department and ultimately traffic commissioner. I learned a few things along the way and on my own and at my expense, I’ve put together a kind of master plan for NYC transportation. A major element is tolls at the now ‘free’ East River Bridges and along the avenue entry points to Manhattan’s Central Business District at 60th Street. I would toll all motor vehicles and pedal-powered vehicles (bikes, unicycles, etc). This plan wouldn’t go into effect until mid-decade at the earliest so I need your help on the right technology to use.
In the interim, the existing E-ZPass ETC system could be expanded to the East River crossings and along the 60th Street screen line. Those unregistered with E-ZPass can be accounted for by using an automatic vehicle identification system with ALPR technology. But I’m not yet sure how to toll bike riders this way so it may have to wait until sleeker, more adaptable devices can be in place.
There are also a few drawbacks with utilizing the existing E-ZPass technology currently in operation. For one, the transponder technology is fairly old and still requires batteries, which make the transponders liable to operational failure. They are also relatively expensive to manufacture and the changeout due to battery failure puts an added cost to the operator. From the user perspective, the transponders are a bit bulky, making the dashboard or windshield the only suitable place to put them. They are not practical for cyclists. So what’s the next generation for transponders?
A new standard of RFID transponder has emerged in recent years, known as ISO-6C. With it come several advantages over traditional RFID tags, for both user and operator. The transponder circuitry is much thinner and requires no batteries, making them much more cost-effective to manufacture. The smaller dimensions also mean they can be integrated into various formats, including windshield stickers, license plate tags, and even ID cards. 6C is also helping to advance the growing trend of interoperability in the USA with multiprotocol readers being developed and deployed to allow an easier transition to the newer technology. With 6C RFID, the toll collection experience for motorists and cyclists can be greatly improved.
However, I would like to take ETC another step forward. Approximately 85% of adults in the USA own a cell phone, with a large and growing percentage being smartphones. Considering such a high level of market penetration, why not incorporate 6C RFID technology into every smartphone? In fact, many phones already have near-field communication (NFC) technology, which gives the phone contactless payment abilities. With RFID and NFC, a smartphone can be the perfect device for a universal multi-use payment system. Imagine being able to pay bridge tolls, taxi, subway and bus fares, and parking fees with a wave of your phone. Mobile phone applications can be developed to allow users to check their balances, usage statistics, and refill a prepaid account.
With the help of ETC, NYC could fix its current dysfunctional road pricing system and improve its transportation outlook in the coming years. Advances in ETC technology can enhance the toll collection experience for all system users, with fewer delays and ensuring better compliance. Only when the system is priced correctly and everyone pays their fair share can we begin to alleviate the considerable burden that vehicle traffic imposes on the city.
There are currently no comments.