The new face of mobility pricing

Features

Benelux is where the future of road user charging (RUC) will start. In anticipation of the forthcoming report from PTOLEMUS on road charging and with insight from the recent RUC conference in Amsterdam, Thomas Hallauer looks at some trends in the global ETC market and dissects the latest Spitsmijden project in Rotterdam aiming to curb peak traffic.

The tolling industry is a very different beast when looking outside Europe. At a global level, besides the clear dominance of RFID technology-based tolling compared to our European DSRC and GNSS mix, tolling is losing its physical boundaries. More networks are switching to free flow tolls and road user charging programmes everyday. In fact when looking at Europe and the US, all greenfield projects are barrier free.

At the same time, truck tolling through dedicated programmes is becoming universal in Europe and nowhere else. However, despite the EETS directive and the late coming of those programmes most were engineered after 2005. None of the 10 programmes in Europe share any resemblance. A case in point comes from the European Commission’s home country where the forthcoming 11th European truck RUC programme in Belgium will not even use axle count as toll criteria; one of the very few commonalities between the other schemes. Apparently, with toll calculation criteria changing systematically between member states, trucks will have to continue piling up on-board units on their windscreen for a while.

Yet these devices will also change rapidly and globally we expect to see both mutualisation and multiplication for three reasons:

Firstly, in Europe the next tachograph will include DSRC for enforcement as well as GNSS for positioning and a better integration with fleet management systems (FMS). Secondly, the fleet management market will continue to grow by 15-20 per cent per year in the years to 2025 accelerated by cheaper starting costs, insurance led incentives and quicker ROI. Finally, eCall deployment after 2018 will also contribute to making telematics mainstream in vehicles.

However all of the above and much more are already present or will be soon integrated into smartphones. We believe these sensor-rich, personal and always evolving devices will have a role to play in the tolling sector; starting with the mobility pricing models.

The value chain of the road charging sector will also evolve and the partnerships to provide connected services that we have seen at the onset of the Ecotaxe programme will continue to grow.

Five types of players are now positioned to benefit from the growing opportunities around connected vehicle services:
•    The fleet management system providers are the most mature but have no real connection to e-tolling as it is a minority market for them.
•    The dedicated toll service providers had a opportunity in France and some will continue to partner in order to provide added value – for example in the total cost of trip calculation.
•    The energy companies have a strong card to play in shouldering the EETS providers’ requirement while benefiting from their position as fuel card providers.
•    The fuel card specialists are more integrated and mature in terms of service provision, yet are often missing out on the FMS opportunity partnership would give them.
•    Finally, the road operators have the widest of the opportunity range starting with wireless payment for zone access, parking and others but also through driver focused projects reusing their experience in road and traffic management. Also, national regulation changes after the 2009 economic crisis have made it very difficult for some concessionaires to grow their revenues so they need to find new ways to generate business. This is precisely what is happening in Holland.

Rotterdam and the new business models to reduce traffic congestion

BNV Mobility, the consortium behind the series of test projects, is formed by road and toll service operators: Brisaand Egis Projects together with a Dutch toll consultant Nedmobiel. Their latest project, MyJINI, is different. It is open ended; supported at the start by the Dutch transport ministry and the regional government, but expected to demonstrate a sustainable business model. The consortium is currently running two projects in the Rotterdam area:

Wild Van de Spits2015 is a “closed Project” for delivering rush hour traffic “avoidances”, which directly rewards selected drivers with cash incentives when they do not drive during rush hours and is funded directly by the government.
MyJINI is a full scale mobility service package and is funded through business partnerships. It benefits from financial support, under the guise of subsidies for performance, in order to create a sustainable business model that also contributes to indirectly creating rush hour traffic “avoidances”. The key difference here is that the reward model is not fed by subsidies but through private partnerships with other businesses. Both programmes are paid by the Verkeersonderneming (VO), the public entity owned by the Rotterdam Port, City of Rotterdam, regional and national government.

To demonstrate “avoidance” the past projects have used a number of different solutions including automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), smartphone and black boxes. The latest project is using an OBD dongle. All members receive a free myJINI connector that gives behaviour feedback from the driver’s personal online dashboard. Using this system, the drivers will get a range of benefits:

•    Fuel and maintenance savings from better driving
•    Five per cent discount on their insurance premium through a partnership with Allsecur (a brand from the Group Allianz). Discounts are also linked to a drivers rating, which is calculated only as a comparison with other drivers in the project. Only the 75 per cent best drivers get bonus $JINIs.
•    MyJINI fuel card, giving discounts of 15 per cent per litre through a partnership with Shell.
•    Emergency assistance in case of accident
•    JINI$ which are points earned from avoidance and that can be used towards discounts on car insurance as well as a web shop.

Of course, every time the car is used during rush hours, $ JINI are deducted from the drivers account. For the drivers as well as for BNV Mobility, the benefits – and subsidies- are measured in numbers of days not driven per week. Beyond short-term avoidance, the project wants to change mobility behaviour.

The target market for these programmes has always been the frequent user with a leased or private car. At first the drivers had to be eligible and were targeted by the project organisers. With MyJINI, any driver can join on a voluntary basis and the approach is also expanding outside the area around Rotterdam.

MyJINI is a pilot at many levels, but none more important than demonstrating a viable business model for mobility pricing. BNV Mobility manages to bring in the necessary starting capital requirements, either from equity or from financial operations in order to get the project off the ground.

It also needs to balance the books so the project brings long-term positive results by, on one hand, ensuring the self-sustainability of earning/spending point model and guarantying the necessary “liquidity”. Without rewards, the model falls apart. The previous pilot projects have clearly demonstrated that the quality and choice of rewards is paramount to customer retention and most importantly, to the long-term behaviour change. And on the other by creating a valuable ecosystem for B2B partners to profit, grow, add value or reduce external costs.

Thomas Hallauer is research director at PTOLEMUS Consulting Group. The Spitsmijden programme and mobility pricing are analysed in much detail in the forthcoming PTOLEMUS study. For more information on its release and to receive the free abstract visit www.ptolemus.com/etolling

Article taken from the April 2015 issue of RUC Magazine