After the American Revolution, westward expansion took hold, creating the need for new roads. This period was marked by the development of turnpike companies, the earliest U.S. toll roads.
According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, in 1792, the first turnpike was chartered, known as the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike in Pennsylvania.
Since then, toll roads have been used to help pay for new roads and improvements, and prices have been steadily rising as more repairs are needed for the aging infrastructure.
What is a Toll Management System?
In short, toll management facilitates a proactive solution to fleet tolling, which enables increased mobility for drivers and avoidance of expensive toll violations.
“Like a fleet fuel card program, toll management provides coverage in the U.S. and Canada, consolidating all toll spend under one account without prefunding requirements and offered by the leading fleet management companies. Fleet owners benefit from detailed visibility into fleet tolling activity, while fleet managers’ tolling-related administrative duties are significantly reduced,” said Ray Myers, director of business development for Verra Mobility.
Depending on the size of the fleet, managing toll can quickly become a full-time job.
“Based on our experience with more than 7,400 clients with hundreds of thousands of vehicles, tolls are at best a strain on company resources, or, at worst, completely unmanaged,” said John Andrews, president and CEO of Bestpass.
An effective toll management program, according to Andrews, addresses four key areas:
- Consolidates toll data, payments, and accounts as much as possible.
- Maintains accuracy concerning both the toll data and your vehicle inventory.
- Identifies ways to save time and money on tolls.
- Cultivates some degree of insight and awareness about how toll impacts your fleet.
Who Needs a Toll Management System?
Any fleet that operates in a state or region with tolls should at least consider a toll management system.
“When looking at toll management systems, fleets should evaluate elements such as current toll volume, time spent managing tolls, number of open toll accounts, geographic area of operation, and whether the fleet is centralized or divided into distinct business units. Not only is understanding the full picture of your fleet’s toll activity a useful exercise, but it can help you perform an accurate cost-benefit analysis on alternative systems,” said Andrews of Bestpass.
Self-managed fleets should also consider looking into a toll management program.
“Any fleet that self-manages tolling at the local level and is experiencing high volumes of toll violations should explore the benefits of a managed tolling program, either directly or through their fleet management provider. Also, fleets that mandate their field managers or drivers set up and manage personal or fleet accounts should consider a toll management program,” said Myers of Verra Mobility.
Top Benefits of Toll Management
Fleets of all sizes can benefit from a toll management program if vehicles operate across multiple tolling regions.
“However, the size of the fleet and location of its vehicles dictates the type of toll program that would be most beneficial. All-electronic and cashless toll roads now exist in most busy, commerce-driven regions and the projected growth of these toll roads is exponential,” noted Myers of Verra Mobility.
Future infrastructure development, according to Myers, includes all-electronic and cashless toll roads or hybrid toll roads with Express or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) toll options.
“Fleets should consider a managed toll program to safeguard current vehicles from violations and to prepare for the expansion of toll roads nationwide. Gone are the registration holds, impounding (boot and tow) and banning of vehicles, and other difficult consequences of tolling infractions,” Myers said.
Andrews of Bestpass agreed that fleets that realize the most benefit from a toll management program include those operating in a region with a high density of toll roads and bridges, operating in multiple regions with different tolling systems, and managing a fleet dispersed across multiple regions or locations.
“For example, if a fleet is operating along the entire East Coast, there are challenges that arise due to the sheer volume of tolled facilities, as well as the lack of interoperability between toll systems in the Northeast and Florida. A toll management system can help mitigate the impact of these issues on the fleet and the overall business,” added Andrews.
Why Toll Management?
There are many reasons fleets choose toll management. But, simply put, a fleet would want to use a toll management program to save time and money on tolls.
“By consolidating all toll-related data and transactions into a single system, the fleet manager can operate more efficiently and effectively. Based on an analysis of our customers, we estimate that for a fleet with 100 vehicles, an in-house resource would spend 16 hours per month on toll-related activity. Of course, for larger fleets, that time commitment would be much more substantial. We can radically reduce the time that our customers have to spend on toll, allowing them to focus on other areas of their business,” said Andrews of Bestpass.
Toll management can help save 60-80% over traditional toll processing methods, according to Myers of Verra Mobility.
“Local managers and drivers can also experience reduced paperwork with a consolidated toll program offered through their FMC, eliminating the need to manage local toll authorities, local enrollment, and prefunding. The toll transactions and spend are then added to the fleet invoice they already receive and remit to their fleet management company (with all other fees associated with managing the fleet),” Myers said.
Better financial management is another benefit of partnering with a toll management provider.
“Fleets can use tolling as part of their total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation because, by using a provider, fleets know their exact toll spend. Fleet managers gain a clear picture of tolling activity and costs via a secure web-interface. The result is a true TCO, which without being on a toll management program, can be painful to calculate. Finally, toll management ensures toll compliance to drivers operating throughout multiple, non-interoperable tolling regions,” he added.
The Bottom Line
Andrews of Bestpass recommended when thinking about your approach to toll management, ask yourself three basic questions:
- What type of fleet am I operating?
- Where does it travel?
- How do we currently pay for tolls?
“Keep the answers to these questions at the forefront of your mind as you evaluate toll management programs, and you’ll be able to identify the best possible solution for your fleet,” Andrews said.
Myers of Verra Mobility had one warning: “Once a fleet is on Toll Management, toll violations stop, but other costly violations such as parking, red-light camera, speed camera, and school bus stop arm camera may still occur and accrue late fines and other fees.
“For these other violations, Verra Mobility provides fleet violation management services directly to and through our fleet management partners, which includes the transfer of liability from registered owner into the name of the responsible driver, saving the fleet from paying violations on behalf of their drivers, and collecting from drivers,” Myers said. “A fleet that utilizes a violation management program can see a reduction in paperwork, administrative costs, paper tickets, fines and fees, as well as improved driving behavior on the road and further compliant vehicles.”