Oregon is currently the only US state with an operable road-usage charge (RUC) program, and the state’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) is seeking to determine whether the RUC system could be part of a model for potential open-architecture variable pricing that could include tolling.
ODOT has released a Request for Information (RFI) that runs until August 22, which is seeking information from private sector firms regarding the idea of open architecture tolling technologies. The 2017 Oregon Legislature directed ODOT to use technology to reduce traffic congestion through implementation of value pricing in the Portland Metropolitan area.
Typically, when states or other entities set up tolling systems, users register with a tolling entity, receive a toll tag, open an account and pay into the account. Users driving through areas with multiple tolling systems sometimes have to open several tolling accounts, so ODOT is interested in determining whether this process can be simplified for the user.
ODOT envisions partnering with several companies to provide users options on how to pay tolls through toll tags, existing RUC mechanisms, GPS devices, smartphones or even embedded vehicle telematics. The agency is seeking information from industry on how these various options could be used to transfer tolling information to a centralized system, and ultimately provide payment to the State or its appropriate subdivisions.
In its Intelligent Transportation Systems Plan, ODOT sets forth a vision of providing drivers with an open system that collects charges related to all forms of road usage, which could include tolling, using interoperable components that conform to common standards. The aim is to provide a common user interface for the customer to seamlessly pay all charges.
Oregon’s current RUC program uses an open system, where private sector account managers from several companies collect mileage information and charge enrolled drivers. Using a more compatible open architecture system to accomplish tolling could result in lower overall cost of ownership to the state. Any tolling system ODOT pursues would include interoperability with its neighbor Washington, which is about to trial its own RUC system, and other states.
“One of the fundamental objectives of the open architecture approach is to make the experience easier for Oregon drivers by giving them a choice on how they pay,” said Eryca Dinsdale, ODOTs’s chief innovation officer. “We look forward to the market bringing creativity and innovation for the future of tolling.”