Open road tolling (ORT), also called 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 the possibility of "leakage"; that is, "violators" who do not pay. Leakage may either be written off as an expense by the toll operator, or offset in part or whole by fees and fines collected against the violators.
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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.
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. 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. The first fully automated toll highway in the world, Ontario Highway 407, opened in Canada on 7 June 1997. The highway managed to achieve this automation through the use of both RFID technology and automatic number-plate recognition.
On September 1998, Singapore became the first city in the world to implement an electronic road toll collection system for purposes of congestion pricing. 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.
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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. While the technology is most commonly used by law enforcement for cataloging vehicle movements and traffic enforcement, ANPR has also been used as a method of electronic toll collection. 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. The use of ANPR reduces fraud related to cash transactions or non-payment,[better source needed][non-primary source needed] makes charging effective,[clarification needed] and reduces the amount of required manpower to enforce the toll road, but requires expensive computer software.
However, ANPR usage raises questions over privacy and data protection. ANPR allows police to automatically compile vast databases of innocent road users' movements, thus disrupting their privacy. 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. As ANPR is a new technology, its use is often not tightly regulated; it is unclear whether ANPR in Scotland complied with the UK data retention laws.
Highways that use open road tolling
The following is a list of some of the highways in the United States that use open road tolling:
- New York State Thruway—between Yonkers and Harriman
- Maryland Route 200—entire length
- U.S. Route 301 in Delaware—entire length
- Massachusetts Turnpike—entire length 
- Sam Houston Tollway—between Interstate 69 and Crosby Freeway; between Interstate 10 and US-90 ALT (including the Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridge), and between the Westpark Tollway and Interstate 45 
- Westpark Tollway—entire length 
- Grand Parkway—entire length 
- Hardy Toll Road—entire length 
- President George Bush Turnpike—entire length 
- Dallas North Tollway—entire length 
- Don Shula Expressway—entire length  
- Snapper Creek Expressway—entire length  
- Dolphin Expressway—entire length 
- Lee Roy Selmon Expressway—entire length, including the elevated express lanes along the central portion of the highway (although the express lanes are not open to traffic at all times) 
- E-470—entire length 
- Illinois Route 390—entire length
Highways that formerly used open road tolling
- Camino Colombia Toll Road—entire length (tolls removed in 2017)
- 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.
- "Road tolling in Norway". Norwegian Public Road Administration. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "About NTTA". North Texas Tollway Authority. North Texas Tollway Authority. 24 February 2009. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Mitchell, Bob (June 6, 1997). "At Last—Opening Bell Tolls for the 407". The Toronto Star. pp. A1, A6.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". 407 ETR. 407 Express Toll Route. Archived from the original on 22 April 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- 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
- "How does Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology work?". ALPR FAQs. International Association of Chiefs of Police. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
- 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%).
- "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.
- "Video Tolls". E-ZPass. Maryland Transportation Authority. Retrieved 8 September 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.
- 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.
- "Police to dump millions of ANPR records over privacy fears". The Ferret. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- "CCTV and ANPR". Liberty Human Rights. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- "Cashless Tolling". NYSTA. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
- Dresser, Michael (February 7, 2011). "First phase of ICC to open Feb. 22". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Delaware E-ZPass. Delaware Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
- Thompson, Elaine (January 23, 2016). "All-Electronic Tolling Begins Installation on Mass. Pike". Telegram & Gazette. Worcester, MA. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
- Dummies, Gintautas (July 27, 2016). "New Mass. Pike Toll Rate Structure Expected to Be Released in August". MassLive. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- Nguyen, Kim (June 28, 2009). "Life in the fast lane: Bush Turnpike converts to cashless toll collection to improve traffic flow". Plano Star-Courier.
- "December2010SpecialEdition". Archived from the original on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2010-12-13.
- "Welcome to Open Road Tolling: SR 874 Don Shula Expressway & SR 878 Snapper Creek Expressway" (PDF). Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- "Toll Rate Schedule" (PDF). Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. July 1, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- MDX Toll Rate Map
- "Selmon Expressway Toll by Tag". THEA. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.