Toll roads make routes faster, safer, and more accessible. Tollbooths, however, are often an inconvenience, because they require our time and are not always equipped with quick payment systems to facilitate passage.
Aware of these inconveniences, Sacyr is implementing smart toll systems on the highways we manage, with the aim of making life easier for drivers, saving time, and facilitating transactions of higher added value for the company. In this effort, automation plays an essential role.
“On a road with an automated toll, up to 500 vehicles/hour can pass, compared to only 225 for a manual system. In Spain, it is not uncommon to find tolls with automated terminals that accept various means of payment, such as contactless cards, chip cards, and cash. Therefore, we focused on making it possible for these machines to integrate all payment technologies, to work at the service of customers,” explains Santiago de Santiago Muñoz, head of the Facilities and Transport Systems department at Sacyr Concessions.
Sacyr has road concessions in Latin America (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay) and in Europe (Italy, Spain, Ireland).
Implementation in Europe
In Europe these systems are already in place:
Manual payment: Tollbooth accepting payment in cash (local and foreign currency), payment cards, non-financial cards, and proprietary means of payment
- Mobile payment through NFC technology
- Automated toll based on DSRC technology. Via-T as an interoperable system in Spain
- ATPM (Automatic Toll Payment Machine): This is Sacyr’s own innovation project, consisting of double-height totem hardware to accommodate vehicles of different heights and able to accept all available means of payment (payment cards, non-financial cards, NFC mobile, cash, loyalty cards). It also features control software to assist users remotely through a road camera and user intercom. This system has already been implemented on the Guadalmedina AP-46 (Malaga-Las Pedrizas) highway and among the advantages it provides users is the versatility of accepting all means of payment. Moreover, Sacyr has ample flexibility when modifying hardware and software components with zero dependence on external suppliers.
“For 2021, we project the installation of 18 single-height ATPM machines for light vehicles and eight double-height machines for heavy vehicles. This is an improved version, currently installed on a test road,” Santiago explains.
In Chile, Sacyr has eight toll roads with attended tollbooths and automated tolls.
New automated payment system
The latest automatic payment system is free flow, which is used on the urban highways of Santiago de Chile and in other countries, such as the United States, Sweden, Austria, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, and Spain. It consists of a gantry equipped with classification systems, OCR (optical character recognition) cameras, and automated toll antennas that recognize passing vehicles without the need to stop or slow down; the system identifies the vehicle and manages the payment of the toll through the concessionaire. The drivers that use these roads are registered in the National Registry of Electronic Toll Users (RNUT), providing user identification data, license plate number, and payment method.
Also using the free-flow system are the Américo Vespucio Oriente (AVO) highway and the Los Vilos-La Serena and Camino de la Fruta highways in Chile.
“Drivers can maintain their speed while passing through the gantries, which have antennas and cameras to record the passage of each vehicle and process the subsequent collection. Sacyr adapts to the specific technologies of each country based on their needs,” says Santiago.
The automated toll system is also used at the Group’s channeled tolls in Chile. Another automated payment method is the use of prepaid cards that are managed directly by the concessionaires.
In Peru, Colombia, and Paraguay toll collectors currently handle means of payment.
As another notable development, Sacyr Concessions is working to create an app for mobile toll payment, a system through which a registered user (personal data, payment means, registration) can use tolls without having to resort to on-board devices or stop on the road. The research centers of partner universities are also studying alternatives, including the use of wireless technology to detect the presence of a mobile device and allow the transaction to be carried out.