Toll management: The management of tolls isn’t often discussed as an industry challenge for fleets. But it should be. Anyone managing their fleet’s toll registrations and bills knows how time-consuming it can be to sort through toll receipts, invoices, and usage.
There’s a better solution, and toll management services can resolve many pain points of managing tolls on your own. And ensure your fleet vehicles are getting the best toll rate.
Here’s three reasons why this type of service may be a benefit for your operation:
- Route optimization benefits.
- Consolidated billing and time savings.
- Help fighting toll misreads.
Let's dig a little deeper into each of these three benefits.
1. Route Optimization Benefits
Let’s be honest: If you live in or have traveled to an area with toll roads, the odds are that at one point in time, you’ve selected the “avoid tolls” setting in your cell phone’s mapping app to find an alternative route.
You did this because, one, you didn’t want to pay for the toll, or two, you didn’t have an account with the tolling authority and didn’t want to receive a bill in the mail and manually pay the fee. In making this decision, you decided that the cost savings and hassle of dealing with tolls outweighed the added travel time and perhaps additional costs in fuel to go around the toll.
For service trucks, final-mile fleets, or other local or regional transportation service providers, the pros and cons of this situation are often flipped. In these operations, delivery or arrival times are monitored closely and can make or break a company’s reputation. More so than companies operating in the over-the-road segment, where delivery windows fluctuate in hours instead of minutes.
In localized operations where vehicles are expected to make multiple stops daily, every minute counts, and situations that create extra drive time for drivers are magnified. Yet surprisingly, many companies still direct drivers to avoid tolls to save money. Depending on how many tolls drivers pass each day, the opportunity costs (fewer deliveries, longer drive time) and fixed costs (fuel) can quickly negate any toll fee savings.
Enabling drivers to pass through tolls is a much more efficient way to support on-time deliveries and reduce fuel bills. If your vehicles are already registered with the tolling authorities within your footprint, then you know there’s still quite a bit of back-office work required to manage toll usage (we’ll get into this more in a bit), which is one of the reasons some company’s try to avoid tolls altogether.
When you work with a toll management and payment service provider, the “busy work” of toll administration is taken care of by the provider.
Working with a toll management provider also locks vehicles into receiving the best toll rates available, even better than what registering directly with tolling authorities provide. That’s because toll management providers, such as Bestpass, are the tolling authority’s largest customers due to the number of vehicles in its network and the discounted rates it receives.
The toll management provider then passes those discounts directly to its customers. Some of Bestpass’s customers can get up to a 60% discount on toll rates. Depending on the fleet’s number of vehicles and toll usage rates, allowing the savings to add up quickly.
2. Consolidated Billing & Time Savings
Whether it’s managing toll bills for a couple of vehicles or hundreds, it takes time to review toll bill statements for each registered vehicle with a tolling authority to ensure bill accuracy and analyze operating expenses. Those problems compound when the toll roads your drivers use are managed by different tolling authorities.
For instance, Texas has four different tolling authorities within the state. If your operation requires drivers to travel throughout the state, you must register each vehicle in your fleet using those toll roads separately with the tolling authorities.
Vehicles that aren’t registered and use toll roads receive a violation (a term used by some toll authorities) or a toll-by-mail letter about the vehicle that used the toll and an invoice, which costs significantly more than the rate a registered vehicle would pay.
There is no “toll manager” in a fleet, and those responsible for managing a fleet’s toll usage typically fall on the shoulders of a fleet or safety manager. Managing that on your own is a lot of busy work, and it takes time away from completing tasks that are more important to the business.
One of Bestpass’s customers, which provides local transportation services in 30 locations across the U.S., significantly reduced the number of employees responsible for managing tolls after it began using toll management services. Before subscribing to toll management services, the company had 60 employees managing tolls. Now there is only one.
When you work with a toll management provider, all vehicles included in a toll management plan are bundled into one account, with toll bills from each vehicle funneled into one monthly bill. You can still access information on each vehicle included in the plan to see precisely when trucks went through a toll and the associated fees so that you can see your fleet’s toll usage to better forecast budgets.
It also makes it easy for fleets to bill back customers for their toll usage. Or, if drivers keep company vehicles at their homes and use them for personal use, it’s easier to see when the vehicle used the toll road and if it was for business or personal use.
With a toll management service, you can customize your plan so that your vehicles can use all toll roads managed by the various toll authorities your truck operates in. For example, say you have 100 dump trucks based in locations across the East Coast. Since toll management companies work with all the toll authorities and cover all the main toll roads across the U.S., you don’t need to worry about registering any vehicles directly with a tolling authority.
It’s as simple as switching out the transponder in your vehicle, and depending on the state, the same transponder in your vehicle may work. It’s a solution that eliminates the need to track down individual vehicle bills and most back-end management.
3. Support in Fighting Toll Misreads
One of the most significant benefits of using toll management services is the reduction in toll overcharges vehicles can receive due to toll “misreads.” Occasionally, when a vehicle passes through a toll road, the cameras the tolling authority use cannot capture the vehicle’s transponder when it exits the toll road, resulting in a misread.
Even if you’re using a toll management service or are registered with a tolling authority directly, misreads still happen. This can lead to a vehicle being charged more than it should have for its toll usage.
A toll management provider has your vehicle plates on file and will work with the tolling authority directly to resolve discrepancies in actual toll usage and what you were charged so that you pay the correct amount.
Working with a toll management provider can also help fleets reduce violations or toll-by-mail fees they receive from unregistered vehicles passing through tolls since it’s easier to manage all company vehicles using toll roads under one account. When vehicles receive a violation because a company didn’t register a vehicle with a tolling authority through its toll management provider, it’s easy to allocate the violation to the specific vehicle and have it registered to prevent future violations.
In a survey we conducted with our customers, we found that the number of violations customers received was reduced by 80% after adding toll management services to their operation.
In addition to toll management services, several services are available to fleets through their toll management account that can help resolve other pain points of running a business in the transportation industry.
Support with managing the following (and more) can be bundled or accessed through a toll management platform:
- Traffic citations.
- Commercial truck permits.
Tolls are a pain to deal with alone, especially if your vehicles use toll roads managed by multiple tolling authorities. Enrolling in toll management services is a simple way for fleets to reduce costs associated with tolls and simplify the management process while, at the same time, gaining better visibility into the operating costs of your business.
If you aren’t paying attention to toll expense, you may be leaving money on the table. A toll management program can help. Stay up-to-date on the latest updates from Bestpass and everything toll- and fleet-related by signing up for Work Truck's eNewsletters today!