RFID initiatives are getting a lot of attention at this year’s International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association meeting.
Attendees are looking at systems that enable travelers to let go of their wallets – which gives those of us fishing for quarters in a cluttered car hope at toll time.
The Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority just completed 80 million tag transactions, demonstrating rapid consumer adoption and use of the eGo(R) RFID-based cashless AutoExpress toll collection system.
“Puerto Rico was the first toll authority to adopt the eGo technology and has proven the need for a more economical, while functionally robust, tag to accelerate adoption of ETC,” said John Worthington, TransCore’s president. “The success in Puerto Rico is transferable to the continental United States, where eGo tags are now being widely adopted in many states.
Puerto Rico’s AutoExpreso Toll Collection System Exceeds Expectations, Surpasses Five-Year RFID Tag Goal in Only Two Years; System Expanding from Original 19 Lanes to 45
(From the International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association Annual
DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sept. 18, 2006–One of IBTTA’s newest members, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) achieves milestone 80 millionth tag transaction, demonstrating rapid consumer adoption and use of the eGo(R) radio frequency identification (RFID)-based cashless payment system. Puerto Rico’s AutoExpreso toll collection system, launched in early 2004, was originally slated for 19 lanes and has been expanded to 45. Retail outlets to purchase tags and replenish accounts have also grown from the original 15 to 140, including gas stations, drug stores in addition to customer service centers.
In just over two years, eGo tags issued exceed 400,000, well ahead of PRHTA’s initial five-year goal of 300,000 and represent a more rapid adoption curve of ETC than experienced in many earlier systems throughout the United States.
“We are ahead of schedule, and the overwhelming success of this program is centered on accessibility and low cost of the tag, and providing electronic toll collection to a cash-based economy,” said Felipe Luyanda, deputy executive director for the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority. “Offering this type of convenience to our drivers was key to the program’s acceptance.”
Adapting electronic toll collection in Puerto Rico presented unique difficulties, since a high percentage of Puerto Ricans do not maintain bank accounts or credit cards. With a cash-based culture, the system had to be conceptually re-engineered by PRHTA and TransCore to look beyond the traditional credit card based ETC architecture and business rules, and allow users to pay cash to refill their account.
This atypical payment model expedited the growth of the ETC program because it offers an over-the-counter retail product. The core of creating such a program stems from the eGo tag’s low price point, which is about half the cost of other hard-case-battery tags that typically run from between $20 to $30, and the streamlined form factor, which made mass retail merchandising realistic. This also presents new market opportunities to expand the reach of ETC into deeper level of customer use.
“Puerto Rico was the first toll authority to adopt the eGo technology and has proven the need for a more economical, while functionally robust, tag to accelerate adoption of ETC,” said John Worthington, TransCore’s president. “The success in Puerto Rico is transferable to the continental United States, where eGo tags are now being widely adopted in many states. It’s an impressively affordable way to gain customers and increase toll collection throughput.”
An additional benefit of the windshield sticker tag is that it adheres to the windshield as opposed to Velcro, reducing the vast majority of misreads and violations because of a customer inaccurately holding up or waving a tag. This benefit also reduces the operational and system demands to process violations, streamlining manpower and system needs.
When motorists enroll in the AutoExpreso cash card program, they purchase a kit containing the eGo paper-thin tag that attaches to the car windshield and an AutoExpreso card with a magnetic stripe that corresponds to their tag and can be reloaded as needed. For example, a customer can visit a participating retailer, swipe his card through a point-of-sale machine and provide $20 to the cashier to be applied directly to his ETC account. As an added benefit, there is no requirement for a customer to fill out forms to register their account as they can continue to pay with cash. The ETC system also allows users to set up their accounts for replenishment methods such as debit and credit cards. In 2003, PRHTA awarded TransCore the multi-year contract for the installation, operation and maintenance of the system, which uses TransCore’s eGo RFID technology for wireless payment.
About eGo Tags
TransCore’s eGo sticker tag is a 915 MHz radio frequency programmable, beam-powered, windshield-mounted sticker tag ideal for applications requiring low-cost and high performance. These paper-thin, non-battery tags are easily installed and are appropriate for electronic toll collection, airport access, airport ground transportation management, and security access. The latest eGo technology is the eGo Plus sticker tag, which can support multiple protocols and make it effortless to migrate from mixed-tag population to a common tag. The high-speed tag has a read range up to 31.5 feet (9.6 meters) and 2048-bit read/write memory at a fraction of the cost for hard-case-battery tags. Today, more than 2.7 million eGo and eGo Plus tags are in active service worldwide including Georgia, Texas, Washington, Puerto Rico, Shenzhen, China, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.
TransCore is dedicated to driving inefficiencies out of surface transportation through innovation. With installations in 46 countries, more than 100 patents and pioneering applications of RFID, GPS and satellite communications technologies, TransCore’s technical expertise is unparalleled in the markets it serves. TransCore’s 60-year heritage spans the development of RFID transportation applications at Los Alamos National Labs to implementation of the nation’s first electronic toll collection system. TransCore’s global experience with tolling systems includes more than 6,200 installed electronic toll collection lanes worldwide and 22 customer service centers. TransCore offers an extensive suite of enterprise software applications, business process outsourcing, system integration, and maintenance services to provide complete solutions, configurable to customers’ requirements. TransCore operates as a unit of Roper Industries, a market-driven, diversified growth company with 2005 revenues of $1.5 billion, total capitalization of over $4 billion, and is a component of the S&P MidCap 400 and Russell 1000 Indexes. For more information, visit www.transcore.com.