Sunday, August 05, 2007

Picture This

Sweden experimented with video cameras for toll collection, and found it a better technology than transponders:

The tolls are levied 6:30am to 6:30pm ...weekdays with the exception of the holiday month of July, and vary between $1.50 (Crowns or SEK10) and $3.00 (SEK20) and are levied for all passes, whether entering or leaving, across 18 highway speed toll points organized into a cordon around the central area. The toll collected from any one vehicle is however capped at $9.00 (SEK60) per day to give a break to high use vehicles.

....During the trials toll transactions were split about equally between transponder tolls and video tolls.

Project manager Birger Hook of the Swedish road administration said the equipment worked "perfectly" from the start to the finish. The higher than expected rate of capturing readable license plate images led to the decision to dump the transponders - CEN standard 5.8Mhz passive transponders which cost about $30 each, have a life limited by the battery, and like every vehicle borne item have to be packaged and delivered by the toller, and fitted to the windshield by motorists.

Q-Free released the camera system used in Stockholm in 2003. Called a MD-1550 VRU (Video Read Unit) it works in conjunction with a laser scanner that detects and tracks vehicles moving on a multi-lane roadway below. The scanner also profiles vehicles for potentially pricing trucks higher.

....The toll was successful in reducing traffic in the central area by about 20%, halving waiting time and was calculated to produce benefits well ahead of costs as well as being financially profitable with a payback period of 4 years on the initial investment.

Initiated and trialed by a left socialist government the scheme was embraced for permanent implementation by a new center right government which stressed its benefits to motorists and pledged revenues to road improvements.

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