California to adopt 6C protocol in move toward nationwide toll interoperability


The USA is moving closer toward interoperable nationwide electronic tolling, with the State of California approving regulations that will establish 6C protocol collection on all the state’s toll roads by January 1, 2019.

California’s Office of Administrative Law has issued a notice of approval of regulatory changes, paving the way for the adoption of the ISO 18000-63 (6C) electronic toll collection (ETC) protocol on all toll roads throughout the state. The approval creates an effective date for the new regulatory changes to take place on January 1, 2018 and establishes 6C as the State of California’s official ETC protocol on January 1, 2019. The regulations will require a complete phase-out of the existing Title 21 protocol used by the state’s FasTrak system by January 1, 2024.

Since the introduction of ETC in the USA in 1989, toll agencies have made substantial investments in ETC technology and millions of customers have enrolled in ETC programs. The goal of nationwide ETC interoperability (NIOP) is the establishment of a system in which customers who have established pre-paid toll accounts in their home state have the ability to pay tolls on any participating toll facility in the country using their existing toll account. Currently the 6C protocol is used in Washington, Colorado, Utah, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana.

“This is a significant milestone for California in our continued adoption of modern technology and solutions for tolling,” said Samuel Johnson, chair of the California Toll Operators Coalition and incoming 2018 second vice president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA). “Use of the 6C protocol will provide for significant cost avoidance in the acquisition and management of transponders for the 14 agencies responsible for operating California’s tolled bridges, roads and express lanes. This adoption will also accelerate national efforts toward interoperability, paving the way for west coast customers to use their account to pay for tolls when traveling in California, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Oregon.”

Patrick Jones, IBTTA executive director and CEO, noted, “This announcement by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is a landmark moment in the work to advance the nation toward interoperability on all electronic tolling systems. As more of our member agencies continue to find ways to agree upon the creation of regional hubs of interoperability, it moves us one step closer to achieving nationwide interoperability. Most importantly, this decision is an important development for the enhanced mobility of California.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).