Transit New Zealand has decided electronic tolling is the way to go for the Orewa-Puhoi motorway extension north of Auckland and for other planned national toll roads.
Transit procurement manager Brent Maguire says when the planned Orewa-Puhoi toll road is completed at the end of 2008, the tolls system will need to be up and running, scanning vehicles to be billed for using the road.
“It’ll need to differentiate between different types of vehicles, because they’ll be charged at different tariffs.”
Transit has released a tender for professional and consulting services to help select suppliers for an electronic system, following its nomination of free-flow electronic toll collection as the preferred method of toll gathering, Maguire says.
“The tender is to fine-tune our strategy.”
The decision to go with an electronic system came after a hard look at overseas toll roads, many of which are electronic, and Maguire says the need to collect tolls without stopping traffic drove the decision.
Overseas reference sites include Melbourne’s City Link road, Sydney and Brisbane toll roads and several roads in Canada and the US.
The technology behind electronic tolling involves vehicles carrying a transponder which sends a signal to a toll gantry at the roadside, identifying the vehicle and debiting the charge from a pre-paid account.
Vehicles without transponders will be identified by video camera. As for drivers who use the roads without pre-paid arrangements, “under the Land Transport Management Act, non-payment of tolls is an infringement and we can trace the owner, who’ll be liable to pay the toll”.
Such a collection system is still to be designed and “there’s a lot of work to do yet”.
In the coming months, Transit will be carrying out public consultation exercises.
Under the Land Transport Management Act, which mandates building toll roads, there must be a non-toll alternative to any destination reached by toll roads. The goal is for the electronic collection system to be interoperable throughout the country, with drivers having only one payment account, Maguire says.