Can Toll Road Apps Drive Customer Behavior?

Nearly everyone has a smart phone filled with their favorite applications or “apps,” but is there a use for them related to toll roads? Transportation agencies seem to think so.

As technology becomes more-and-more integrated into everyday life, agencies are providing another level of customer service by offering free apps for their road networks. These apps allow customers to manage their accounts, see transactions and statements, view toll rates, and even plan trips.

But why stop there?

With managed lanes, price drives customer behavior. The expectation for drivers is that for a price, they can safely and reliably reach their destinations. Drivers who use managed lanes often assert that they gauge congestion in general purpose or “free” lanes based on the price. These customers understand the direct correlation between the price of the toll lanes and congestion levels in general purpose lanes.

Travel-time messaging is a more direct approach to providing congestion information to drivers. In addition to dynamic message signs, communications tools include in-vehicle GPS, map apps (such as Google Maps), and the world’s largest community based traffic and navigation app, Waze.

One streamlined approach to this would be to combine pricing and travel time information together into one tool for drivers. By building upon existing apps, agencies can provide near real-time pricing and travel time information for their managed lane networks. That way, drivers can make more informed travel plans from one source. This helps drivers make plans that best suit their travel priorities: safest route, most time-efficient, or most cost-effective.

So, yes, there should be an app for that.

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About the author

Michael Davis, PE, DBIA
Michael Davis, PE, DBIA
Mike serves as the Tolls Service Group Leader for RS&H and has more than 22 years of experience in the transportation industry, including 15 years dedicated to managed lanes and tolling. During his diverse career, he has helped manage the development of managed lanes systems throughout the United States, including Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and California.

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