Open road tolling

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The ORT lanes at the West 163rd Street toll plaza, going northbound on the Tri-State Tollway near the Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest.
E-ZPass Express lanes on the Atlantic City Expressway in New Jersey, which allows the motorist to pay their toll without stopping or slowing down.
Electronic Toll Collection Toll gate in Taiwan, which allows the motorist to pay their toll without stopping or slowing down.

Open road tolling (ORT), also called all-electronic tolling, cashless tolling, or free-flow tolling, is the collection of tolls on toll roads without the use of toll booths. An electronic toll collection system is usually used instead. The major advantage to ORT is that users are able to drive through the toll plaza at highway speeds without having to slow down to pay the toll. In some installations, ORT may also reduce congestion at the plazas by allowing more vehicles per hour/per lane.

The disadvantage to ORT is that it relies on the honor system to the extent that without the presence of toll booths there is typically no physical means of preventing drivers who have no intention of paying the toll from accessing the road. Toll operators refer to such toll evasion as "leakage." To deter such behavior, toll operators can employ tools such as high-definition cameras to identify violators, and leakage can be offset in part or whole by fees and fines collected against offenders. However, in many cases such enforcement is relatively limited (for example, targeting only commercial vehicles and other such flagrant and/or repeat offenders). Some toll operators prefer to simply write off leakage as an expense, especially if the costs associated with collection efforts are expected to exceed the additional tolls, fees and/or fines that will likely be collected, or alternatively allow vehicles that are privately operated and/or below a specified size and/or weight to access the toll road free of charge.


Many ETC systems use transponders like this one to electronically debit the accounts of registered cars without their stopping

In 1959, Nobel Economics Prize winner William Vickrey was the first to propose a system of electronic tolling for the Washington metropolitan area. He proposed that each car would be equipped with a transponder. The transponder's personalized signal would be picked up when the car passed through an intersection and then relayed to a central computer which would calculate the charge according to the intersection and the time of day and add it to the car's bill.[1]

Norway has been the world's pioneer in the widespread implementation of this technology. ETC was first introduced in Bergen, in 1986, operating together with traditional tollbooths.[2] The first major deployment of an RFID electronic toll collection system in the United States was the TollTag system used on the Dallas North Tollway, implemented in 1989 by Amtech.[3] The first fully automated toll highway in the world, Ontario Highway 407, opened in Canada on June 7, 1997.[4] The highway managed to achieve this automation through the use of both RFID technology and automatic number-plate recognition.[5]

In September 1998, Singapore became the first city in the world to implement an electronic road toll collection system for purposes of congestion pricing.[6] Today there are many roads around the world working with electronic toll collection technologies, and ORT has opened the feasibility to implement congestion pricing policies in urban areas.

Collection methods

Highway 407 overhead cameras used to capture rear license plates in Ontario, Canada.
Tolls in the UAE

Collection of tolls on open toll roads is usually conducted through either the use of transponders or automatic plate recognition, the vast majority of which utilizes an overhead gantry system above the road. While rarely used as the primary vehicle identification method, automatic number plate recognition is used on a number of different highway systems. Both methods aims to eliminate the delay on toll roads by collecting tolls electronically by electronically debiting the accounts of registered car owners without requiring them to stop.


Transponders are a receiver-transmitter that will generate a reply signal upon proper electronic interrogation. Transponders are an adaptation of military identification friend or foe technology. Most current systems rely on radio-frequency identification, where an antenna at the toll gate communicates with a transponder on the vehicle via dedicated short-range communications (DSRC). Some early systems used barcodes affixed to each vehicle, to be read optically at the toll booth. Optical systems proved to have poor reading reliability, especially when faced with inclement weather and dirty vehicles.

Automatic number plate recognition

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) or an automatic license plate reader (ALPR) is a system that uses optical character recognition on images to read the license plates on vehicles.[7] While the technology is most commonly used by law enforcement for cataloging vehicle movements and traffic enforcement,[8] ANPR has also been used as a method of electronic toll collection.[9] ANPR can be used in conjunction with transponder systems. If a transponder is not detected on a vehicle, a system of cameras located at each junction logs the vehicle's unique identity and an invoice is mailed.[10] The use of ANPR reduces fraud related to cash transactions[11] or non-payment,[10] makes charging effective, and reduces the amount of required manpower to enforce the toll road, but requires expensive computer software.[12]

However, ANPR usage raises questions over privacy and data protection. ANPR allows police to automatically compile vast databases of innocent road users' movements, thus invading their privacy.[13] Another concern is that the collected data can be abused by employees or stolen by computer hackers. This has led the police of Scotland to delete their collection of ANPR records in 2016.[12] As ANPR is a new technology, its use is often not tightly regulated;[13] it is unclear whether ANPR in Scotland complied with the UK data retention laws.[12]

Highways using system



New Zealand

All three tolled sections of New Zealand highways use ANPR. Tolls can be paid at selected gas stations, online, or by setting up an account.[15]


  • Motorway A2, KoninStryków since 2021; toll booths disused, payment possible through special pre-paid ticket or by a mobile app
  • Motorway A4, WrocławGliwice since 2021; toll booths disused, payment possible through special pre-paid ticket or by a mobile app



United Kingdom

United States

The following is a list of some of the bridges and highways in the United States that use open road tolling:

See also


  1. ^ Kelly, Frank (2006): Road Pricing: Addressing congestion, pollution and the financing of Britain's road. Published in "Ingenia" by The Royal Academy of Engineering, volume 39, p. 36-42.
  2. ^ "Road tolling in Norway". Norwegian Public Road Administration. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  3. ^ "About NTTA". North Texas Tollway Authority. North Texas Tollway Authority. February 24, 2009. Archived from the original on February 6, 2008. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Bob (June 6, 1997). "At Last—Opening Bell Tolls for the 407". The Toronto Star. pp. A1, A6.
  5. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". 407 ETR. 407 Express Toll Route. Archived from the original on April 22, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  6. ^ Cervero, Robert (1998), "Chapter 6/The Master Planned Transit Metropolis: Singapore", The Transit Metropolis, Island Press, Washington, D.C., p. 169, ISBN 1-55963-591-6
  7. ^ "How does Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology work?". ALPR FAQs. International Association of Chiefs of Police. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  8. ^ Roberts, David J.; Casanova, Meghann (September 2012), Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) Use by Law Enforcement: Policy and Operational Guide, Summary (PDF), International Association of Chiefs of Police, p. 5, Locating and recovering stolen vehicles was the primary purpose for ALPR implementation in nearly two-thirds (62%) of responding agencies, followed by vehicle and traffic enforcement (28%) and investigations (25%).
  9. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". SunPass Prepaid Toll Program. Florida Department of Transportation. Rental Vehicles: 1. What if I'm driving a rental car and missed a toll? A: Most major rental car companies now offer their customers the option of including tolls with the credit card used to rent the vehicle. These rental car customers can use Florida's toll roads and not worry about carrying cash or stopping to pay for tolls. Using license plate recognition systems allows rental car customers to use the Express, SunPass ONLY, E-PASS ONLY and LeeWay ONLY lanes to bypass congestion and traffic.
  10. ^ a b "Video Tolls". E-ZPass. Maryland Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on September 21, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2016. What is a Video Toll transaction? A Video Toll transaction occurs when a vehicle goes through a toll-collection facility in Maryland without paying the toll using cash or an E‑ZPass® account. The registered owner of the vehicle is mailed a Notice of Toll Due (NOTD), which typically arrives within three to six weeks. Video Toll Rates at all Maryland toll facilities are 1.5 times the cash or base toll rate. The Video Toll surcharge is subject to a minimum of $1 and maximum of $15 above the cash or base rate. ***REMINDER: The Intercounty Connector (ICC)/MD 200 and the I-95 Express Toll Lanes (ETL) are all electronic toll roads, and cash is not accepted. Customers without a valid E‑ZPass® account are charged the Video Toll Rate.
  11. ^ Shirodkar, Namrata; Uchil, Preksha (May 2015). "Number Plate Detection using Image Processing for Automated Toll Collection to prevent fraudulent behavior" (PDF). International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer Engineering & Technology (IJARCET). 4 (5). ISSN 2278-1323.
  12. ^ a b c "Police to dump millions of ANPR records over privacy fears". The Ferret. July 7, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "CCTV and ANPR". Liberty Human Rights. July 20, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  14. ^ "Home | Highway 407". Retrieved November 28, 2021.
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  16. ^ "Payments change at Dartford Crossing". BBC News. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  17. ^ Keag, Susan Lunny (February 17, 2017). "Cashless tolling begins Monday on Bayonne Bridge". Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  18. ^ "Bay Area's first open-road tolling at new Benicia-Martinez Bridge". August 23, 2007.
  19. ^ Belmore, Ryan (September 20, 2021). "Pell Bridge to transition to all-electronic tolling on October 27". WUN What’s Up Newport.
  20. ^ "December2010SpecialEdition". Archived from the original on December 15, 2010. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  21. ^ MDX Toll Rate Map
  22. ^ a b "Welcome to Open Road Tolling: SR 874 Don Shula Expressway & SR 878 Snapper Creek Expressway" (PDF). Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Toll Rate Schedule" (PDF). Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. July 1, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  24. ^ "Toll Payments".
  25. ^ "SR 520 Bridge tolling". Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  26. ^ "Electronic Toll Collection". Florida's Turnpike. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  27. ^ "Login | TxTagStore Site".
  28. ^ "Golden Gate Bridge - FasTrak". San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  29. ^ Bascome, Erik (June 28, 2018). "Goethals, Outerbridge to get cashless tolling in 2019". Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  30. ^ "The Hardy Toll Road is Getting a Big Makeover". August 21, 2015.
  31. ^ Hernandez, Cindy (February 25, 2021). "Illinois Tollways go cash-free — permanently". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  32. ^ "I-405 Express Toll Lanes". Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  33. ^ "Selmon Expressway Toll by Tag". THEA. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  34. ^ Dresser, Michael (February 7, 2011). "First phase of ICC to open Feb. 22". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  35. ^ Thompson, Elaine (January 23, 2016). "All-Electronic Tolling Begins Installation on Mass. Pike". Telegram & Gazette. Worcester, MA. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  36. ^ Dummies, Gintautas (July 27, 2016). "New Mass. Pike Toll Rate Structure Expected to Be Released in August". MassLive. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  37. ^ "New Open Road Tolling Plaza in York Opening on September 15th". Maine Turnpike Authority. September 13, 2021.
  38. ^ "Cashless Tolling". NYSTA. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  39. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces Cashless Tolling to Go Live Overnight on NYS Thruway's Ticketed System Beginning Friday, November 13, More Than a Month Ahead of Schedule". Albany, NY. Archived from the original on November 13, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  40. ^ "Leon County is Getting its First Toll Road". Tallahassee, FL: WTXL-TV. April 7, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  41. ^ Bascome, Erik (March 15, 2019). "Cashless tolling for Outerbridge Crossing expected by end of April". Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  42. ^ "No Cash Zone". PA Turnpike Cashless Tolling. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  43. ^ "SR 538 (Poinciana Parkway)". Central Florida Expressway Authority. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  44. ^ Nguyen, Kim (June 28, 2009). "Life in the fast lane: Bush Turnpike converts to cashless toll collection to improve traffic flow". Plano Star-Courier.
  45. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 12, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  46. ^ "San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge - FasTrak". San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  47. ^ "SR 99 Tunnel tolling". Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  48. ^ "Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolling". Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  49. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Delaware E-ZPass. Delaware Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  50. ^ "SR 167 high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes". Washington State Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  51. ^ "Toll Roads".

External links