Strategizing Schedules for Tolling Public-Private Partnerships

In developing a public-private partnership (P3) schedule for managed lanes, a toll consultant must determine its role during the initial stage of a project. Also, it should determine when and how the consultant should be integrated into the overall project approach, and whether early involvement justifies the cost. Typically, the initial project focus is on developing procurement documents, technical requirements, and managing stakeholder coordination. Often, the toll system is seen by developers almost as a commodity without the need to emphasize it until the project is well underway. Let’s examine key components of toll scheduling and how they fit into a project schedule.

Development of the project concept is a critical step in integrating managed lanes into a P3 project. The concept report analyzes the agency’s design and desired operating characteristics for the facility. In order to incorporate objectives, you must quickly define toll lane functions while also considering the functionality of existing facilities.

Discussions of new projects often involve speculating about the technology choices, trade-offs, and long-term implications. Toll professionals and consultants work closely with agencies and other project stakeholders to identify the most important decision factors. While some factors are more critical than others, all must support the strategic goals of the project. In addition, successful projects employ operating strategies that can be adjusted as the facility matures and as the community’s needs evolve.

After the approach is developed, the project schedule addresses procurement issues. The first issues to decide on is whether the agency should maintain control of the toll system by procuring separate design-build and toll contracts or if the tolling portion should fall under control of the developer. Maintaining control within the agency carries additional risks and costs but provides the agency with control over customer service issues. Assigning those roles to the developer shifts the risk but raises procurement issues with performance measures, toll rates, and a broad range of other operational issues. These can include system interfaces, reconciliation, quality control, and violation enforcement.

Taking the time to thoroughly define the toll strategy and implementation process at the outset of the project development process provides the best opportunity to achieve established performance criteria. Doing so results in the successful transfer of transaction information to the back office and ensures that revenue collection and financial processes meet expectations.

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About the author

Rick Hurst
Rick Hurst
As an industry leader in Toll Systems and Operations, Rick continues to focus on ensuring clients maximize system expenditures and operational cost control. He has more than 30 years of transportation experience, including serving as a Project Manager for the design of customer service centers, toll manuals, transaction processing, and more.

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