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Author Topic: Expanded Kansas/Oklahoma/Texas toll transponder interoperability now here!  (Read 12498 times)

rte66man

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OTA announced expanded interoperability with all Texas toll roads on May 1st.

Here's the link:
https://spark.adobe.com/page/UiJ4aU6naiUyn/
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sprjus4

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I'm just gonna be the one to say it - there just needs to be one toll transponder for all toll roads in the United States. It would be way simpler, and allow someone per se on one side of the country to travel to the other and be able to use their transponder without having to deal with the toll by plate B.S. Now that cashless toll roads are becoming popular, I have to go out of my way to avoid toll roads in areas E-ZPass aren't accepted. It's annoying and an inconvenience.

So far, I think NC Quick Pass is the pass that can be used in the most states. All E-ZPass states (which includes NC), plus Georgia and Florida.
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skluth

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I'm just gonna be the one to say it - there just needs to be one toll transponder for all toll roads in the United States.

Agreed.
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Phone_Harold

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I also agree.

I would point out the system used by KS/OK/TX is much more reliable than EZ Pass and the system used by Orange County toll road authority.  When driving in Florida a couple of years ago, Orange County missed half of the reads.  I hand to call them and pay the missing tolls.  No problem on FL Turnpike nor Hillsboro County.

My Pikepass only had one misread in several years of use.  (I suspect it was an equipment problem on OTAs side.)  It works so good when I had two transponders with one in the glove box, and both got read.
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Brandon

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I also agree.

I would point out the system used by KS/OK/TX is much more reliable than EZ Pass and the system used by Orange County toll road authority.  When driving in Florida a couple of years ago, Orange County missed half of the reads.  I hand to call them and pay the missing tolls.  No problem on FL Turnpike nor Hillsboro County.

My Pikepass only had one misread in several years of use.  (I suspect it was an equipment problem on OTAs side.)  It works so good when I had two transponders with one in the glove box, and both got read.

Sounds like my I-Pass (EZ Pass) experience.  Never a misread since 2003.  If your EZ Pass is misread, you're mounting it wrong (as I've seen far too many do).
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J N Winkler

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The actual position is more nuanced.  The protocol used in Kansas/Oklahoma/Texas is TransCore 6B/6C, which--compared to the current E-ZPass IAG protocol--eliminates a point of failure (batteries expiring) by using passive RFID technology.  But the actual reliability varies considerably from agency to agency within this interoperability zone.  I have a K-Tag and have had 100% accuracy on OTA and NTTA infrastructure (often under extremely unfavorable conditions), but numerous blown reads on the Kansas Turnpike.  In contradistinction, the I-Pass I use to access E-ZPass facilities has had 100% billing accuracy on the Illinois Tollway, the New York Thruway, and the Ohio Turnpike despite one read glitch (yellow light shown instead of blue at an Illinois Tollway toll gate, subsequently registered as a correct transponder read and not as a video toll; the account was nowhere near replenishment threshold).

Many years ago, when E-ZPass and the concept of interoperability in general were both still fairly new, there were problems with the New York Thruway rejecting good reads from vehicles that traversed toll gates in excess of the posted limit, and the Thruway then pursuing the drivers for toll evasion.  I suspect this (minus, at this point, pursuit for toll evasion) is what the Kansas Turnpike is now doing.  The Thruway now accepts reads regardless of vehicle speeds, and I suspect this is true throughout E-ZPassland.

This suggests to me that E-ZPass appears to be more robust mainly because the E-ZPass agencies are further along a learning curve in terms of debugging back-office billing procedures and issues with the technology underlying the protocol.  It will take time for the Kansas/Oklahoma/Texas zone to progress along the same curve and I think agencies that serve the lowest volumes will take the longest to catch up.  The Kansas Turnpike serves far less traffic than the Oklahoma turnpike system and any of the Texas regional toll authorities, so it doesn't surprise me I am seeing all of my problems in Kansas even though the transponder I have is native.
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kphoger

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OTA announced expanded interoperability with all Texas toll roads on May 1st.

Here's the link:
https://spark.adobe.com/page/UiJ4aU6naiUyn/

The map on that page has red dots for the toll bridges at the Mexican border.  However, I suspect Pikepass will not work there.
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route56

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I have a K-Tag and have had 100% accuracy on OTA and NTTA infrastructure (often under extremely unfavorable conditions), but numerous blown reads on the Kansas Turnpike.

I haven't had any issues with blown reads up here (though, I did go through the ORT lanes with a disabled K-TAG and racked up $80 in toll violations)
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J N Winkler

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I haven't had any issues with blown reads up here (though, I did go through the ORT lanes with a disabled K-TAG and racked up $80 in toll violations)

Are you using a credit-card-sized sticker K-Tag or the newer strip-style sticker K-Tag?
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route56

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Are you using a credit-card-sized sticker K-Tag or the newer strip-style sticker K-Tag?

I have the larger square-shaped K-Tags for three of the four vehicles on my account. The fourth has a strip.

It was the vehicle with the new strip tag that I was driving when I received the toll violations, but like I said before, it wasn't a 'blown read.' That K-Tag had been disabled because the credit card on file had expired. At the time, my dad had a separate K-Tag account for this car - I was using it for a couple of days during some icy road conditions. After receiving the first two violations, we authorized the KTA to move the K-Tags and the remaining balance on his account to mine. I have had not indication of a "blown read" since then (I will point out that I do have the licence plates for all four vehicles on my account registered with the KTA.
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J N Winkler

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I have the larger square-shaped K-Tags for three of the four vehicles on my account. The fourth has a strip.

It was the vehicle with the new strip tag that I was driving when I received the toll violations, but like I said before, it wasn't a 'blown read.' That K-Tag had been disabled because the credit card on file had expired. At the time, my dad had a separate K-Tag account for this car - I was using it for a couple of days during some icy road conditions. After receiving the first two violations, we authorized the KTA to move the K-Tags and the remaining balance on his account to mine. I have had not indication of a "blown read" since then (I will point out that I do have the licence plates for all four vehicles on my account registered with the KTA).

Thanks for this explanation.

My situation is that I am the only family member with a KTA account but have active credit-card-sized transponders for all three of the family cars.  Only one of the three transponders is actually installed and in use, next to an I-Pass under the inside rearview mirror mount.

Before KTA implemented video enforcement and permanent gates-up at certain toll plazas, I routinely had blown reads where the gate would stay down.  This has happened with transponder held up to windshield and transponder actually stuck to the windshield, with and without the I-Pass.  Now that KTA has video enforcement and gates permanently up at certain toll plazas, I am now dealing with misattribution of entry and exit point (e.g., billing says I entered at K-254/K-196/El Dorado when GPS log for the same journey proves I entered at I-135/I-235/South Wichita).  All of this has been with an account that has remained continuously in good standing (no credit card expiration, etc.) and with the license plate registered soon after KTA implemented video enforcement.  (I believe they started sending out violation notices before they made self-registration possible on the website.  My license plate is registered because a blown read resulted in a violation notice and I took that to KTA HQ to express my displeasure about their failure to read a correctly installed K-Tag.  The consumer service representative I talked to asked me for the plate number and typed it in as part of that visit; I did not self-register.)

AFAICT, KTA is nowhere near close to getting out of their own way.  I am still getting "Clean up your account" emails because I have two activated transponders that are not installed in cars and do not have corresponding license plate registrations.  I am not going to ask for them to be deactivated because if I put one of them in one of the two cars and register the plate, I want it to be available for use right away.  And I am not going to register plates for the other two cars because if it is taken through a cash lane that has video enforcement, I don't want to be double-billed (I don't trust KTA not to perform plate lookup on a vehicle that pays cash).

I suspect most of my problems would go away if KTA accepted good reads from vehicles traversing toll gates at speeds in excess of the limit, but I am not sure about the best way to lobby for this to happen.  I can see KTA management taking the view that if you don't observe the speed limit going through the toll gate, you deserve all the billing aggravation you get.  I believe that separating billing from speed enforcement is an operationally more expedient and in general more grown-up approach, but it wouldn't surprise me if it took a public outcry for the New York Thruway to abandon its former practice of discarding good reads from speeding vehicles.
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Duke87

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it wouldn't surprise me if it took a public outcry for the New York Thruway to abandon its former practice of discarding good reads from speeding vehicles.

That is exactly what it took. NYSTA was actively harassing customers who went through E-Zpass lanes "too fast", they agreed to stop doing this after the press made a stink about it. This was over 15 years ago at this point.

A key difference is that NYSTA openly admitted they were harassing people about speed - one of the things they were doing was sending people nastygrams in the mail saying "you were caught exceeding the speed limit through one of our toll plazas, keep doing this and your E-Zpass account may be suspended"

KTA hasn't done *that* and any accusations that they're deliberately letting reads blow for people who exceed the speed limit are hearsay.
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Rothman

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I believe NYSTA still issues speed violations related to going too fast through the E-ZPass lanes.  The threshold to trigger one may be higher than it once was, however.
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jeffandnicole

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it wouldn't surprise me if it took a public outcry for the New York Thruway to abandon its former practice of discarding good reads from speeding vehicles.

That is exactly what it took. NYSTA was actively harassing customers who went through E-Zpass lanes "too fast", they agreed to stop doing this after the press made a stink about it. This was over 15 years ago at this point.

A key difference is that NYSTA openly admitted they were harassing people about speed - one of the things they were doing was sending people nastygrams in the mail saying "you were caught exceeding the speed limit through one of our toll plazas, keep doing this and your E-Zpass account may be suspended"

KTA hasn't done *that* and any accusations that they're deliberately letting reads blow for people who exceed the speed limit are hearsay.

NJ was doing this too.

That said, it wasn't much of a nasty gram. NJ would only send it out if you were going 31+ in a 5 mph zone. In other words, you're caught going 26 over the limit, and you're given a simple letter. Not really that big of a deal. Way better than a 26 mph over the limit ticket!

The EZ Pass limit thru the traditional lanes are now 15 mph, and I don't think they've sent letters for years.
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J N Winkler

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KTA hasn't done *that* and any accusations that they're deliberately letting reads blow for people who exceed the speed limit are hearsay.

My thanks to you and to Jeffandnicole for sharing local perspectives on how this issue played out in New York and New Jersey.

At this stage, it is not even hearsay that KTA is performing backdoor speed enforcement in this way.  Other possible explanations I can't rule out include the use of substandard or miscalibrated reader equipment.  I do have GPS logs for all toll plaza transits with a K-Tag, so at some point I want to check what speed characteristics are associated with billing errors, failed gate raises, violation letters and other irregularities.
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kphoger

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Does anyone know how it works to tow a U-Haul trailer behind a vehicle with a toll sticker?

If I call the toll agency and change the number of axles associated with my tag, will I simply be charged the higher rate apropriately at each toll booth?

Or will U-Haul still get a bill for a toll violation on the trailer regardless, because that's where the license plate is registered?
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bwana39

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We've had PIKEPASS interoperability on KTA and NTTA roads for about a year now.  But, I don't have a reason to go that deep into Kansas, and Dallas is a hot mess of public and private toll roads and not obvious who operates what, plus all the toll roads in the DFW area have state highways immediately adjacent so I don't bother with 'em at all when I'm there.

I have a K-Tag and this development removes the need for me to avoid electronically tolled toll roads altogether in Texas, though I am not sure a K-Tag will help me if I go HOV in Texas and want to use an express lane where the toll is variable according to occupancy.  PikePass has of course already been interoperable with NTTA infrastructure (TollTag) for years, but I am pretty sure PikePass holders have gained access to both HCTRA (EZ Tag) and TTD (TxTag) toll roads, but with the same caveat about the use of express lanes with variable tolling according to vehicle occupancy.  What is not clear to me at this point is whether a different type of transponder (maybe active type with driver dial-in of occupancy level) is required to use these express lanes at all, or if out-of-town drivers can use their passive-type transponders and simply overpay the toll if they happen to be HOV.

I also disbelieve KTA's claim about all toll roads in Texas.  There are some border bridges with electronic tolling that have long not been interoperable even with toll roads deeper into Texas and I am not sure the deployment of the new hub has changed this.

Texas also has some small-beer toll facilities where transponders, of whatever type, are no good because electronic tolling is not available at all.  One example of this is the toll bridge maintained by Brazoria County that carries the county road continuation of FM 3005 over San Luis Pass southwest of Galveston.  I presume there is a mechanism for these small operators to buy into TxTag, which seems to be at least the de facto statewide transponder network, but that many won't unless they are compelled to do so by state law.

Galveston County OWNS and OPERATES The Toll Bridge at San Luis Pass.

This bridge is 45 mph at the best of times. It is one $2.00 toll. On peak use days, they take it up by hand. AFAIK all the rest of the toll roads in Texas have complete reciprocal interoperability. AFAIK there are no PRIVATE toll roads in Texas. There are several regional toll agencies that are apart from TXDOT in addition to the toll lanes and roads operated by TXDOT itself.

As far as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas interoperability, it is the lack of a billing arrangement between the agencies.  I suspect the HCTRA issue has to do with the Kansas tag not being paid immediately. HCTRA uses NO pay by invoice options (including pay by mail.)  If you travel on an HCTRA road or bridge that does not have toll booths (and many of them do not, ) you have to have an acceptable tag or you have created a violation that is $35 plus the tolls. It used to be $35.00 per toll segment. All of the Texas Tags are pay from a previously deposited fund and generally an automatically authorized topping off.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2021, 08:43:17 AM by bwana39 »
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Great Lakes Roads

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Speaking of which, the KTA awarded its first contract to convert the toll collection to AET.

https://www.wibw.com/2021/05/29/kta-awards-first-cashless-toll-construction-contract/
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Ned Weasel

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Speaking of which, the KTA awarded its first contract to convert the toll collection to AET.

https://www.wibw.com/2021/05/29/kta-awards-first-cashless-toll-construction-contract/

I'm confused.  Is this a system-wide overhaul, or just a partial conversion?  Have they even decided how system-wide conversion is going to work?  Are they going to keep the ticket-based system or convert to an open/point system?  The "Cashless Tolling" part of the KTA's website only talks about Exit 53A, which we've already discussed at great length on this forum.  https://www.ksturnpike.com/cashless-tolling
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J N Winkler

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I'm confused.  Is this a system-wide overhaul, or just a partial conversion?  Have they even decided how system-wide conversion is going to work?  Are they going to keep the ticket-based system or convert to an open/point system?  The "Cashless Tolling" part of the KTA's website only talks about Exit 53A, which we've already discussed at great length on this forum.  https://www.ksturnpike.com/cashless-tolling

I don't think it is possible to tell from the materials that are publicly available at this point.  However, the plans for Contract 7788 call for tolling infrastructure (overhead signbridges, equipment cabinets beside the road, and what appear to be loop detectors in the pavement) to be built at multiple locations on the mainline.  This suggests to me that KTA is contemplating a conversion to barrier tolling.
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vdeane

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The article made it sound like it would be the section south of Wichita, though I'm not sure how one would do a partial conversion of a ticket system without constructing temporary booths.
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Scott5114

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I kind of hope they don't. Ticket systems are a lot easier to understand and less prone to abuse than barrier systems and whatever you'd call the abomination of design that is the Oklahoma turnpike system.
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I donít see any issues with a barrier system if toll gantries are adequately spaced between each exit. That way motorists can get on and off the highway without having to worry about tolls, those would be automatically collected on the mainline.
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J N Winkler

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The article made it sound like it would be the section south of Wichita, though I'm not sure how one would do a partial conversion of a ticket system without constructing temporary booths.

Yes, the hardware is going in south of Wichita.  But this is billed as the first of several contracts, and I predict the others will cover segments further north.
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The article made it sound like it would be the section south of Wichita, though I'm not sure how one would do a partial conversion of a ticket system without constructing temporary booths.

Yes, the hardware is going in south of Wichita.  But this is billed as the first of several contracts, and I predict the others will cover segments further north.

Found a link to the presentation on this project, and I'll run down the most important parts of the presentation:
-Adds 36 toll zones and reusing 6 toll zones for a total of 42 toll zones (21 each way)
-Convert the existing toll zones (Southern, East Topeka, and Eastern) with new tolling equipment and add 36 new mainline toll zones
-It will be a "closed" system with some zones operating in one direction only and other zones having adjacent toll zones to capture both directions
-Schedule on slide 20. Splits the contract into four different construction packages in three years (South of Wichita (2021), North of Wichita to Emporia (2022), East of Topeka to Kansas City (2022), and between Emporia and Topeka (2023))
-The ones east of Topeka on I-70 will have space for a future outside lane in each direction
-Scheduled to go live in January 2024 and will have a separate contract for demolition of all of the existing toll plazas on the system

Link: https://www.ksturnpike.com/assets/uploads/content-files/KTA_CashlessTollingPh2_Pre-Proposal_Mtg.pdf
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