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Author Topic: Expanded Kansas/Oklahoma/Texas toll transponder interoperability on the horizon  (Read 21781 times)

wxfree

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There's news on this topic, and a whole lot more regarding the rest of the South and even EZPassland.
https://communityimpact.com/austin/city-county/2017/05/31/txtag-now-works-kansas-highlights-wednesdays-central-texas-toll-agency-meeting/
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rte66man

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There's news on this topic, and a whole lot more regarding the rest of the South and even EZPassland.
https://communityimpact.com/austin/city-county/2017/05/31/txtag-now-works-kansas-highlights-wednesdays-central-texas-toll-agency-meeting/

There's a partial misstatement in the article:

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Within the next few months, Texas toll transponders can also be used to pay for tolls on Oklahoma toll roads and vice versa, Reilly said.

from Pikepass.com:
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24. When can I use my PIKEPASS transponder in North Texas and will the NTTA Sticker TollTag transponder work on Oklahoma turnpikes?
Yes. Beginning August 10, 2014 the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) will be interoperable with the North Texas Toll Authority (NTTA). After that date your PIKEPASS will work in North Texas and your NTTA Sticker TollTag will work in Oklahoma.

26. Where in Oklahoma can I use my NTTA Sticker TollTag transponder?
Starting August 10th, 2014 you can use your NTTA Sticker TollTag transponder on all ten (10) Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) turnpikes. These include: Turner, Will Rogers, H.E. Bailey, Indian Nation, Muskogee, Cimarron, John Kilpatrick, Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw. Your NTTA account must be in good standing to qualify for Interoperability on OTA roads.

I've used my Pikepass extensively in Dallas with no problems.  The article should have clarified exactly which transponders would be interoperable.
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J N Winkler

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I've used my Pikepass extensively in Dallas with no problems.  The article should have clarified exactly which transponders would be interoperable.

It seemed to me that the article plays a little fast and loose with interoperability outside Texas, but it does confirm that PikePass does not have full interoperability with all Texas transponder providers, which comes as a surprise to me since I would have assumed that getting interoperability with Oklahoma (population 5 million) would have been a higher priority than with Kansas (population 3 million).

I don't see how interoperability with E-ZPassland (nice coinage, BTW!) can happen "within a year or two" unless the E-ZPass agencies are already poised to install dual-mode readers or are planning to use video tolling exclusively for all out-of-staters with incompatible transponders (a scary prospect given the "right number, wrong state" errors turned up by the current OCR setups).
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Bobby5280

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I don't know why it is taking so long for OTA to get the details settled with CTRMA and HCTRA so PikePass can work with toll roads in Austin, Houston and the rest of the state. I wish they would get this process finished already. PikePass has worked on NTTA toll roads in DFW for nearly 3 years.

In the article Tim Reilly of CTRMA said the overall goal of every toll agency is accepting a transponder that every other toll road agency uses. They need to agree on an overall compatible standard. Unfortunately that will mean some toll road agencies will have to completely replace transponders on customer vehicles and toll tag readers. OTA has already done this previously with PikePass. I still remember the old soap bar looking transponders.

Not to split hairs, but Oklahoma's population (2016 Census estimate) is 3.911 million.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 02:48:16 PM by Bobby5280 »
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Brandon

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I've used my Pikepass extensively in Dallas with no problems.  The article should have clarified exactly which transponders would be interoperable.

It seemed to me that the article plays a little fast and loose with interoperability outside Texas, but it does confirm that PikePass does not have full interoperability with all Texas transponder providers, which comes as a surprise to me since I would have assumed that getting interoperability with Oklahoma (population 5 million) would have been a higher priority than with Kansas (population 3 million).

I don't see how interoperability with E-ZPassland (nice coinage, BTW!) can happen "within a year or two" unless the E-ZPass agencies are already poised to install dual-mode readers or are planning to use video tolling exclusively for all out-of-staters with incompatible transponders (a scary prospect given the "right number, wrong state" errors turned up by the current OCR setups).

I know that ISTHA has been experimenting with gantries over the road for the collection of non-EZ Pass tolls.
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wxfree

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This month's Texas Transportation Commission meeting agenda includes some news on this front:

"Consider authorizing the department to enter into an agreement with other governmental entities related to the interoperability of toll collection systems
MAP-21 requires that all toll facilities on federal-aid highways implement technologies or business practices that provide for the interoperability of electronic toll collection programs. This minute order authorizes the execution of an agreement between the department and the North Texas Tollway Authority, Harris County, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority, the Kansas Turnpike Authority, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise. The agreement will address the interoperability of toll collection transponders through the use of the Southeast US Interoperability Hub and the Central US Interoperability Hub."

Apparently the agencies are at the stage of executing the agreement.  There's also mention of hubs I've never heard of.  I assume they're new and are established by the agreement.  When the minute orders are put online, which usually happens on Monday, I'll read through the agreement, which I'm pretty sure has to be attached to the minute order, and learn about those hubs.  I'll bring any interesting news, and a link to read it, here.

(I'll check the web sites of the other agencies involved to see if I can find it now.)
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wxfree

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This was discussed at the last CTRMA meeting.  It was explained that interoperability is already in place between Kansas and all of Texas, and will be in place soon with Oklahoma.  Also, tying in with Florida will open up North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana.  That's expected early next year.  E-Z Pass was also discussed.  They have a different system and don't use a hub.  They're looking at how to make their system more connectable.

It's Item 11B
https://mobilityauthority.swagit.com/play/05312017-546
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bmorrill

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2013-ish there was a story on Toll Road News that TxTag and PikePass were planning to have interoperability in place by "the end of next year", but said interoperability plan appears to have sunk without a trace. I emailed both OTA and TxDOT asking what happened, but never got any answer. I finally cancelled my PikePass and TxTag accounts and picked up a TollTag from NTTA when OTA and NTTA made their interop agreement a couple of years ago. The NTTA tag works throughout Texas as it is, and once it worked in Oklahoma that was all I really needed. Don't go into Kansas anymore, so OTA's agreement with the Kansas Turnpike folks doesn't concern me.
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wxfree

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There isn't exactly an excess of information.  The SE US IOP Hub is run by Florida's Turnpike Enterprise.  I haven't found any specific documents about it.  The C US IOP Hub was established last year.  It appears to be run by NTTA with other members being TxDOT, CTRMA, HCTRA, and FBGPTRA (Fort Bend [County] Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority) in Texas as well as OTA and KTA.  NTTA's web site has a section for documents, where the agreement can be found.  The agreement seems to have been finalized more than a year ago, but full function is not yet in place.

The agreement nullifies the peer-to-peer arrangements between KTA and OTA and between NTTA and OTA, as well as transitioning from the Texas IOP Hub to the C US IOP Hub, which covers everyone.   NTTA provides software maintenance, and HCTRA provides hardware maintenance.  This suggests that NTTA provides the electronic operation on HCTRA's computers in Houston, with physical maintenance performed there.  There is an additional fee paid to HCTRA to cover that cost.  There's also a transaction fee of 5 cents plus 3% of the toll amount paid to the tag-issuing authority when a tag is used on another authority's road, to cover processing costs.  These little details are interesting to me.  The full agreement is at the link.

https://www.ntta.org/newsresources/Documents/Miscellaneous/Interop%20ILA%20with%20Kansas%20and%20Oklahoma.pdf
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vdeane

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There is an additional fee paid to HCTRA to cover that cost.  There's also a transaction fee of 5 cents plus 3% of the toll amount paid to the tag-issuing authority when a tag is used on another authority's road, to cover processing costs.
Sounds like they have transponder discrimination baked-in.  And to think I thought that interoperability meant that people wouldn't have to deal with surcharges and fees (as one would for bill by mail).
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J N Winkler

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Sounds like they have transponder discrimination baked-in.  And to think I thought that interoperability meant that people wouldn't have to deal with surcharges and fees (as one would for bill by mail).

Actually, no, there is no transponder discrimination, despite that provision.  The contract says specifically that interoperability means the customer is charged the same electronic toll rate regardless of (1) transponder type or (2) who issued the transponder.

In principle each party to the agreement could eat the net cost of foreign travel (travel on its network by vehicles with transponders issued by other parties), but in actuality I suspect there will be some cost recovery through fees for portable transponders (KTA and OTA both charge for hardshell transponders that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle; only the sticker-type transponders that become inoperable when pulled off windshields are free of charge) and also adjustment of electronic toll rates to offset the burden of foreign travel, if that settles down to a consistent percentage from year to year.

Edit:  Since, however, the agreement apparently supersedes existing peer agreements between KTA and OTA, and between various pairs of the Texas toll agencies, I can see some toll agencies working harder to market the convenience advantages of obtaining a transponder locally rather than from an agency in another state.  E.g., for KTA it is desirable for a given Kansas resident to have a K-Tag rather than a PikePass, since when that Kansas resident uses the Kansas Turnpike, KTA gets the whole electronic toll rather than the electronic toll minus the five cents minus the 3% of the gross toll required to access the payment data from OTA through the interoperability hub.

It actually works to KTA's disadvantage that OTA had interoperability with TollTag before KTA did, because that created an incentive for Kansas residents to get PikePass instead of K-Tag to cover trips down to DFW, and once a PikePass account is set up, it is a hassle to close it down just to establish a K-Tag account.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 01:48:04 PM by J N Winkler »
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wxfree

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And now we have the Central and Southeast agreement.  Like the Central agreement, it includes a "nondiscriminatory and seamless" provision, meaning that tolls are the same regardless of which transponder is used and that no action is required by drivers to use different road systems.  There is a limitation in that some authorities can't read 6C tags.  If those authorities don't adapt their tag readers or have camera systems to read license plates they will request the 6C issuing authorities to inform their users that interoperability does not apply to that authority's roads.

While non-governmental entities cannot be a party to the agreement, the SE Hub allows them to "participate in the benefits of and be responsible for the obligations under" the agreement by contracting directly with FTE.  Entities in other states can join either hub only if they're in a state within which another member of that hub resides or are in a state in which no other toll authority is a member of a different hub, in order to prevent overlap.  The transaction fee is 3% of the toll amount.  This applies only to transactions between the hubs.  Within each hub the amount is determined by the existing arrangement.

https://www.mobilityauthority.com/upload/files/board_meetings/2017-06-28/8_1_FINAL_AIS_Interoperability_Agreement_(TR).pdf
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 04:24:37 PM by wxfree »
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wxfree

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Edit:  Since, however, the agreement apparently supersedes existing peer agreements between KTA and OTA, and between various pairs of the Texas toll agencies, I can see some toll agencies working harder to market the convenience advantages of obtaining a transponder locally rather than from an agency in another state.  E.g., for KTA it is desirable for a given Kansas resident to have a K-Tag rather than a PikePass, since when that Kansas resident uses the Kansas Turnpike, KTA gets the whole electronic toll rather than the electronic toll minus the five cents minus the 3% of the gross toll required to access the payment data from OTA through the interoperability hub.

As an interesting side note, in the original agreement between NTTA and HCTRA in 2003, before anyone else was involved, it was required that new accounts not be opened for someone in a ZIP code logically associated with the other authority.  Meaning that NTTA could not open a TollTag account for someone in the Houston area, and HCTRA could not open an EZ TAG account for someone in the DFW area.
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kphoger

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The manufacturer of the RFIDs states on its website that this was implemented in 2001.  My only border crossing in 2001 was by taxi, and all the ones before that were only in the border zone (no importation required) or by commercial airline, so I have no personal experience with the stickers before 2006.

I didn't photograph or dismantle a sticker on either of my visits to Mexico, but if they were using RFID back then, it was not anything like that used in current-generation KTA or OTA transponder stickers.  The import stickers were flat and were designed to tear if peeled off after an initial application to a windshield (apparently designed to prevent the same sticker from being used in multiple vehicles).  They might have been depleting outdated stock, or perhaps RFID was initially rolled out to vehicles other than private passenger cars.

Preferred mounting location for the import sticker back then was the driver's side upper corner (the first time I entered, the clerk walked out and applied the sticker there, I think so he could claim a M$20 "gratuity" away from the PGR poster in the Banjercito office saying that no gratuities were required and anyone asking for them should be reported).

The KTA transponder sticker (and, I presume, OTA's as well) has a hard bulge in the middle where the RFID chip sits.  Both agencies express a preference for center mounting, but OTA does not insist on it.  I suspect part of the purpose is to minimize the chance that a valid transponder read will be rejected because the sticker was not in the spatial envelope the vehicle overlaps when it goes under the gantry.

Some border agents keep a razor blade in the kiosk to hand you if needed to aid in removing the sticker, but there's always at least some residue left behind nonetheless.

The worst case I had (which I could not really shift with naphtha) was after my second visit, but that was largely because I left the residue on for months before I attempted cleanup.  I think I got 100% of the residue from the first sticker with just naphtha.  I didn't try a razor blade on the residue I couldn't move; it might have allowed 100% removal but since I no longer own the car in question, I cannot run out and try it.

I wonder how much of a problem the bottom–driver's side corner is compared to top-center mounting, assuming my sticker locations will end up "walking" downward rather than laterally.

I'd be concerned about blown reads if a RFID sticker transponder was mounted at the bottom of the windshield.  My first blown reads with the KTA sticker were with it sitting at the bottom of the windshield, backing side out, no tape affixing it to the windshield (I had first checked the defogger vent to verify that there is a screen preventing credit-card-sized objects from falling into the HVAC box).  Visibility to the gantry is the same as for locations further up the windshield, so I don't know if the sticker has to be above a certain level to generate a valid read, or the air gap between sticker and windshield was too large.

But many of the trucks in question were Texas-plated, so I'm not sure why the violations were simply accrued for months before sending us the bill.

I suspect it has to do with keeping collection expense per unpaid toll down.

Before last year, my annual runs to México involved keeping money in a day pass account specific to the Camino Colombia (TX-255).  I would update vehicle information every year, depending on who was driving with us and what license plate numbers had changed.  Over the years, unbeknownst to me, gantries on that road recorded violations—I assume because I failed to update our info correctly or enough in advance.  But, our vehicles always being Kansas-plated, we never received any notice.  Two years ago, however, we used the new TX-130 bypass from Georgetown to Seguin.  A month or two after we got back home, we received the pay-by-mail bill, and—lo! and behold—there were charges included from previous years' violations on the Camino Colombia on both our vehicle and our friend's.  This makes me a little concerned that, if and when Texas gains access to other states' DMV information (such as Kansas), people will get bills in the mail from violations incurred years ago they thought they'd never be fined for.  I wonder if they store these violations in a database, and it's just a matter of time before they one day have a way of sending out the bills.

My guess is that the toll agencies will try to collect as far back as they can, with as many fines as they can, and with as little opportunity as possible for the consumer to dispute alleged violations that are arguably a result of an agency's administrative error (such as not correctly attributing your vehicle and passenger information to the Camino Colombia account).  I don't foresee that this behavior will be curbed until the agencies are required to adhere to certain limits on collection procedure, including a provision for certain unpaid tolls to "age out" of violation so that consumers do not get surprise bills for tolls for which they no longer have the documentation to dispute.

I personally would never use a toll road in Texas on a bill-by-mail basis because there have been far too many horror stories of people being falsely billed (right license plate number, wrong state scenario) or receiving bills in the thousands of dollars for small numbers of unpaid tolls.

Update to this tangential side-topic:

Mexico, as of this year, has discontinued the use of all windshield stickers (RFID or otherwise) in conjunction with vehicle importation.  All you get is the document, no sticker to mount or remove later.
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