One of the largest transactions in tolling in 2022, ITIS Holding finalised the integration of toll operators CzechToll and SkyToll under one roof. Here, Matej Okáli, CEO of ITIS Holding, explains what benefits and innovations the global tolling industry can expect from the newly formed organisation…
Probably the largest transaction in tolling last year was the creation of Czech-based company ITIS Holding. The new organisation became the 100% owner of the operators of electronic toll systems CzechToll and SkyToll, tech company TollNet, and the supplier of payment solutions for carriers, PaySystem.
“Today, because of the integration of CzechToll and SkyToll under one roof, ITIS Holding is now one of two companies in the world that can boast of operating a satellite toll collection system in two countries simultaneously,” says ITIS Holding CEO Matej Okáli. “And in two countries it also operates an electronic vignette payment system for passenger vehicles.”
In the field of toll service providers, this is a unique transaction. What led you to it?
The importance of toll collection as an important source for financing transport infrastructure globally is growing rapidly. The first generation of toll systems is ageing, and new, modern and significantly more efficient solutions are being introduced. Incidentally, this was demonstrated by the tender in the Czech Republic, where the cost of collecting tolls from lorries was reduced by two-thirds because of applying satellite technology.
ITIS Holding is a newly established company. What does the abbreviation ITIS mean?
ITIS stands for Intelligent Traffic and Infrastructure Solutions. We aim for innovation and advanced services linked to the need to manage and regulate traffic both outside cities and within metropolitan areas. And, as shown, for example, by plans to introduce tolls for passenger vehicles entering the centre of Prague, these projects are often related to environmental aspects. Simply put, within ITIS Holding, we want to take traffic data, increase its information value using advanced technologies, and apply it to advanced traffic management with an emphasis on sustainability and climate protection.
What new innovations could ITIS Holding bring to the toll service market?
Toll systems tend to last for 10 years or more, so from the perspective of one country it may seem that nothing much is happening. But on a global scale, the opposite is true. Completely new generations of toll systems are currently being formed, which are based on virtual on-board units (OBUs) and thus open the way for a much wider application for passenger cars or for car transport in urban and suburban areas. Toll systems in cities provide a completely new platform for the development of services related to parking, traffic regulation or improving traffic flow. The change in this area has already begun and we want to be a part of it.
SkyToll is the best-known brand within the new holding. What is its role in the new group?
SkyToll has enormous experience not only with operation but with system integration. This is valuable for the entire holding, as system integration is key to the success of any large technology project. The team at SkyToll can build on the experience of launching and operating systems in the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, as well as on the introduction and operation of the electronic vignette system in Slovakia and Slovenia. Thanks to these experiences, several other opportunities open-up before us, and not only in the European region.
A big topic in the industry is new approaches to charging passenger vehicles. Do you think electronic tolls for passenger cars are likely to replace electronic vignettes in the near future?
Charging individual passenger cars based on satellite technology is a fast-approaching reality. It provides a more just charging alternative compared to time-based vignettes and is a significantly more efficient alternative to the collection of tolls on specific sections, for example from passing through motorway tunnels in the Alps.
The key to the introduction of the new charging method is the identification of the vehicle’s location. While we can use an OBU for lorries, for passenger cars it seems more appropriate to use a smartphone, which most drivers already have today, or systems built into vehicles directly by vehicle manufacturers. Both methods have their own minor shortcomings, but from the point of view of the toll system operator, they are relatively easy to implement. In the future, it would thus be possible to use the current generation of toll systems, such as the one in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, to also charge passenger vehicles. After the necessary legislative adjustments, only a mobile phone or technology directly built into the vehicle would send data to the toll system from a passenger vehicle.
ITIS Holding (Intelligent Traffic and Infrastructure Solutions) is the 100% owner of the operators of electronic toll systems in the Czech Republic (CzechToll) and in Slovakia (SkyToll), technology company TollNet, and the supplier of payment solutions for carriers, PaySystem. ITIS Holding has been established with the ambition to profile the group in the field of intelligent transport system solutions. It focuses on innovation and advanced services linked to the need to manage and regulate traffic outside cities as well as within metropolitan areas, especially with regard to environmental aspects. For more information, please visit www.itisholding.com.