US20090089156A1 - Determining a toll amount - Google Patents

Determining a toll amount Download PDF

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US20090089156A1
US20090089156A1 US12/268,680 US26868008A US2009089156A1 US 20090089156 A1 US20090089156 A1 US 20090089156A1 US 26868008 A US26868008 A US 26868008A US 2009089156 A1 US2009089156 A1 US 2009089156A1
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toll
determining
capture rate
multiplier
location
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US12/268,680
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Benjamin P. Robinson
Sarath K. Balachandran
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Rent A Toll Ltd
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Rent A Toll Ltd
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Priority to US80137206P priority Critical
Priority to US11/803,933 priority patent/US7501961B2/en
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Priority to US12/268,680 priority patent/US20090089156A1/en
Assigned to RENT A TOLL, LTD. reassignment RENT A TOLL, LTD. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BALACHANDRAN, SARATH K., ROBINSON, BENJAMIN P.
Publication of US20090089156A1 publication Critical patent/US20090089156A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07BTICKET-ISSUING APPARATUS; FARE-REGISTERING APPARATUS; FRANKING APPARATUS
    • G07B15/00Arrangements or apparatus for collecting fares, tolls or entrance fees at one or more control points
    • G07B15/06Arrangements for road pricing or congestion charging of vehicles or vehicle users, e.g. automatic toll systems
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G1/00Traffic control systems for road vehicles
    • G08G1/01Detecting movement of traffic to be counted or controlled
    • G08G1/017Detecting movement of traffic to be counted or controlled identifying vehicles
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G1/00Traffic control systems for road vehicles
    • G08G1/20Monitoring the location of vehicles belonging to a group, e.g. fleet of vehicles, countable or determined number of vehicles

Abstract

A system, method, and computer readable medium for determining a toll amount comprises determining a capture rate of transports at a toll location and determining the toll amount based on the capture rate.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This patent application is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/803,933, which was filed on May 16, 2007. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/803,933 claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/801,372, which was filed on May 18, 2006. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/803,933 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/801,372 are incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to toll fee tracking systems and methods and, more particularly, but not by way of limitation, to toll fee tracking systems and methods for automatic, non-contact, high-speed toll fee tracking and payment of vehicular tolls using automated vehicle identification (AVI) techniques such as Video, GPS, DSRC, RFID, etc.
  • HISTORY OF RELATED ART
  • The crowding of highways within metropolitan areas has resulted in the development of additional traffic arteries known as toll roads. Toll roads have become increasingly popular, however, they require the payment of a toll fee for use by vehicular occupants. The collection of tolls by conventional means has had a negative effect upon highway throughput and safety. Congestion and long backups on toll plazas are becoming more common. Such conditions involve a significant economic cost, through lost time and reduced productivity. Moreover, serious accidents at toll plazas, caused by operators or mechanical failures, have also increased in frequency.
  • Today, those individuals who frequently use toll roads are now prone to the purchase of toll fee tracking device. The toll fee tracking device allows the vehicular occupant to bypass the cash only toll gate and, in many instances, the vehicle can maintain its normal speed as it traverses the toll gate wherein the passage of the toll fee tracking device is recorded. The popularity of the toll fee tracking device has expanded to the point that the normal user of the toll fee tracking device can be frustrated by the lines at toll gates when the toll fee tracking device is not available. Unavailability of a toll fee tracking device can be for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the use of rental cars.
  • One of the major issues with rental cars or third party operated vehicles is maintaining and managing a large population of vehicles with the toll fee tracking devices attached to such vehicles. As a result, toll authorities have initiated a program utilizing Violation Enforcement Systems (VES) to capture toll usage from third party operated vehicles. The VES utilizes the video toll technology (VTOLLS). While capturing video tolls (VTOLLS) using VES helps to minimize violations, the VES system fails to improve the overall revenues of the toll authority. Using VES to capture toll usage from third party operated vehicles reduces the amount of lost revenue capture by toll authorities. However, Toll Authorities are still losing significant amount of revenues when VES don't capture a valid license plate string whether that be from weather conditions, visibility conditions, damaged license plates, unreadable licenses plates or a multitude of other reasons that prohibit the capturing of a valid license plate to therefore bill the toll violator. These toll violators include both 3rd party operated vehicles such as rental cars, but the majority of toll violators are local vehicle owners.
  • The toll fee tracking devices using RFID technology have a capture rate of around 90%-99% of the actual tolls and are an efficient means for capturing revenue for toll authorities. On the contrary, VES system capturing revenue for toll authority is much less effective. As a result, utilizing VES systems to capture toll usage from third party operated vehicles and local vehicles significantly reduce the toll authority revenue. The reason for the low efficiency rate in the capture of VTOLLS is due to several factors which may be, for example, dirt, grime, mud, snow, ice on license plates. Other factors may also aid to the low efficiency rate in the capture of VTOLLS such as, for example, damaged license plates.
  • Therefore, there is a need for a method and system for capturing a greater percentage of uncaptured tolls to improve the overall revenues of the toll authority.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention toll fee tracking system comprising a toll processing unit applying a multiplier to captured toll usage data. The above summary of the invention is not intended to represent each embodiment or every aspect of the present invention.
  • In one embodiment, a method for determining a toll amount, comprises determining a capture rate of transports at a toll location and determining the toll amount based on the capture rate.
  • In another embodiment, a computer readable medium comprises instructions for: determining a capture rate of transports at a toll location, determining a multiplier and determining a toll amount based on the capture rate and the multiplier.
  • In a further embodiment, a system for determining a toll amount comprises a first entity that determines a capture rate of transports at each toll location, wherein the first entity is at least one of: a toll authority and a toll collection entity and a second entity that determines the toll amount based on the capture rate, wherein the second entity is at least one of: the toll authority and the toll rental entity.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a system diagram according to an embodiment of the disclosure;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a system diagram and message flow according to an embodiment of the disclosure; and
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a flow chart of actions involving a toll processing unit according to an embodiment of the disclosure.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a flow chart describing a capture rate calculation according to an embodiment of the disclosure;
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a flow chart describing actions involving a third party entity according to an embodiment of the disclosure;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates another system diagram according to an embodiment of the disclosure; and
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a further system diagram according to an embodiment of the disclosure.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Embodiments of the present invention provide a system, method, and computer readable medium for improving the overall revenues of the toll authority. As an exemplary embodiment, assume 1000 unsubscribed users pass through gates of the toll authority per day. Out of the 1000 vehicle users, 90% of the 1000 users are actual cash payers at the toll authority while the remaining 10% of the 1000 users are violators. If the toll authority charges $1, than $900 would be paid by cash payers. If the capturing efficiency of the VES is 40%, then 40% of 100 (violators) would be captured by VES. Ultimately, the toll authority would receive $900 from the cash payers and an additional $40 collected from the violators. Thus, the remaining $60 is unaccounted for and is due to the poor video capture rate of the VES.
  • Referring now to FIG. 1, a system 100 includes a traffic monitor 112, a toll processing unit (TPU) 114, and a toll location 116 which are communicably coupled to one another via a wired connection, a wireless connection, and/or a combination of the two. The traffic monitor 112, detects traffic usage 124 of a transport in any of a number of ways including: automatically 118, manually 120, semi-automatically 122, or in any other manner. The transport is at least one of: a vehicle, a motorcycle, a bus, a train, a plane, a train, a boat, and any device that provides transportation. The toll location 116, provides toll usage 132 of the transport as the transport uses or accesses one or more toll locations which may be a specific toll lane, a toll gate, a toll plaza, a wireless toll collection system, a toll region, and a toll system in its entirety. The traffic usage 124 and the toll usage 132 are sent to the TPU 114 which calculates a toll amount based on at least one of: a capture rate 140, and a toll multiplier 142 amount. TPU 114 may be shared by multiple toll roads, toll locations, toll lanes and toll authorities. Multiple Toll Monitors 112 communicate with the TPU 114 for deriving capture rate.
  • Referring now to FIG. 2, a system 200 includes a traffic monitor 212, a toll processing unit (TPU) 214, and a toll location 216 which are communicably coupled to one another via a wired connection, a wireless connection, and/or a combination of the two. The traffic monitor 212 sends traffic information to the TPU 214 in a number of ways including: automatically 218, semi-automatically 220, and manually 222 in a periodic or non-periodic manner. The TPU 214 receives this information 224 and updates a traffic database 225. The toll location 216 sends 230 toll collected transactions to the TPU 214 in a periodic or non-periodic manner. The TPU receives 232 the toll collected transactions and updates a usage database 233. The information from the traffic database 225 and from the usage database 233 are used to calculate 240 a capture rate by a toll location which is used to create 242 a multiplier database 243. This database 243 (or the information contained in this database), can be published and used for toll billing in addition for other services.
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, a flow chart 300 describes various actions that a TPU can perform (but may not necessarily perform) including receiving 310 traffic information from the traffic monitors either periodically or on-demand, maintaining 312 the traffic database either locally or remotely, receiving 314 toll collected transaction(s) from the toll location(s) either periodically or on-demand, maintaining 316 the usage database either locally or remotely, calculating 318 the capture rate based on the collected traffic and toll transaction, creating 318 a multiplier database based on the captured rate by location, and publishing 322 the multiplier database for toll billing for bother location and third party applications. The steps that may be performed by the TPU may be performed in any order other than the order depicted and described.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, a flow chart 400 describes a capture rate calculation and includes calculating 410 a capture rate for each toll location by comparing the traffic with the toll collected transaction, creating 412 a multiplier value by using 1/(capture rate %*1), and updating 414 a multiplier database. Some of these steps may not be performed and the ones that are, may be performed in any order other than the order depicted and described.
  • Referring now FIG. 5, a flow diagram 500 for calculating the toll amount using a multiplier model is shown. When a transport uses a toll road, the TPU receives the toll usage such as location information, direction, vehicle information, time stamp, and the like from the toll lane controller or toll plaza 512. The TPU receives the toll usage information using either a pull or push methodology via a wired and/or wireless mechanism. The TPU uses the collected information from the toll plaza and finds the matching multiplier value using the capture rate at the toll location 514. A multiplier database can be maintained locally or remotely and can be accessed by at least one of the following: a toll lane/toll plaza, a toll authority, and a TPU. The TPU uses the multiplier value to calculate the toll amount the toll usage 516. This calculated information can be later transferred to the toll plaza, toll authority, external party, customer, or any other person or entity. The customer or receiving entity can then pay the calculated toll price for the toll usage 518.
  • Referring now FIG. 6, a system 600 for calculating a toll amount using multiplier model is shown. A traffic monitor 616 captures the toll traffic information either manually or using an automatic technique and builds a toll traffic database 618 periodically or non-periodically. A TPU 620 uses this information to predict the capture rate information at each toll location at a specific instance. For example, on a rainy day, a snowy day, during a peek time, etc. This knowledge database is used to build a “multiplier database” 622 which provides a value to be multiplied with the existing toll amount to capture lost revenue due to technical or physical limitations. The multiplier database 622 is created and maintained by the TPU 620 which uses a toll billing service component to calculate the toll amount for any toll usage. When a transport 612 uses the toll plaza/toll facility 614, the TPU captures the toll usage and calculates the toll amount for the toll usage via a toll usage database 624.
  • Embodiments of the present invention utilize a multiplier model based upon a capture rate of the VES. As an example, a particular toll road such as, the newer George Bush Turnpike may have a higher capture rate (using video, for example) as compared to the older Dallas North Tollway. Thus, the present invention utilizes different multipliers based upon the capture rate of the various toll roads, toll plazas, toll gates or entire toll systems which may be based in part on the level of technology in the toll booth areas of the toll roads. Using the multipliers allows for a greater percentage of actual tolls to be collected and using different multipliers for different toll roads based upon the capture rate of the various toll roads establishes an element of inherent fairness in the charges applied. When a vehicle passes through a toll gate/lane of the toll authority, the VES captures the vehicle information and a toll processing unit applies a multiplier to each captured toll. The following table shows a system, method, and computer readable medium for capturing 100% of the actual tolls and a payout to a toll authority (TA) when a VES is used for toll usage capture:
  • VTOLL TA
    Capture Multiplier Payout
    10% 10.00 1000
    11% 9.09 1000
    12% 8.33 1000
    13% 7.69 1000
    14% 7.14 1000
    15% 6.67 1000
    16% 6.25 1000
    17% 5.88 1000
    18% 5.56 1000
    19% 5.26 1000
    20% 5.00 1000
    21% 4.76 1000
    22% 4.55 1000
    23% 4.35 1000
    24% 4.17 1000
    25% 4.00 1000
    26% 3.85 1000
    27% 3.70 1000
    28% 3.57 1000
    29% 3.45 1000
    30% 3.33 1000
    31% 3.23 1000
    32% 3.13 1000
    33% 3.03 1000
    34% 2.94 1000
    35% 2.86 1000
    36% 2.78 1000
    37% 2.70 1000
    38% 2.63 1000
    39% 2.56 1000
    40% 2.50 1000
    41% 2.44 1000
    42% 2.38 1000
    43% 2.33 1000
    44% 2.27 1000
    45% 2.22 1000
    46% 2.17 1000
    47% 2.13 1000
    48% 2.08 1000
    49% 2.04 1000
    50% 2.00 1000
    51% 1.96 1000
    52% 1.92 1000
    53% 1.89 1000
    54% 1.85 1000
    55% 1.82 1000
    56% 1.79 1000
    57% 1.75 1000
    58% 1.72 1000
    59% 1.69 1000
    60% 1.67 1000
    61% 1.64 1000
    62% 1.61 1000
    63% 1.59 1000
    64% 1.56 1000
    65% 1.54 1000
    66% 1.52 1000
    67% 1.49 1000
    68% 1.47 1000
    69% 1.45 1000
    70% 1.43 1000
    71% 1.41 1000
    72% 1.39 1000
    73% 1.37 1000
    74% 1.35 1000
    75% 1.33 1000
    76% 1.32 1000
    77% 1.30 1000
    78% 1.28 1000
    79% 1.27 1000
    80% 1.25 1000
    81% 1.23 1000
    82% 1.22 1000
    83% 1.20 1000
    84% 1.19 1000
    85% 1.18 1000
    86% 1.16 1000
    87% 1.15 1000
    88% 1.14 1000
    89% 1.12 1000
    90% 1.11 1000
    91% 1.10 1000
    92% 1.09 1000
    93% 1.08 1000
    94% 1.06 1000
    95% 1.05 1000
    96% 1.04 1000
    97% 1.03 1000
    98% 1.02 1000
    99% 1.01 1000
    100%  1.00 1000
  • The formula used to determine the multiplier is as follows:

  • Multiplier=1/(Toll Capture Rate %*1)
  • For example, if M=Multiplier for TOLLS and X=TOLL Capture rate %, then M=1/(X*1).
  • Referring now FIG. 7, a system 700 includes a TPU 712 and a toll location 714 that are communicably coupled to one another via a wired connection, a wireless connection, and/or a combination of the two. The toll location 714 captures the vehicle information when a vehicle uses the toll road 716 and sends 718 the toll usage information to the TPU 712 which receives 720 the toll usage information and updates the usage database 721. The TPU looks up the multiplier value based on the capture rate at the toll location 722. The TPU creates the toll amount using the following mechanism: Toll Amount=Original Toll Amount+1/(CR %*1)*[Original Toll Amount], where CR denotes a capture rate.
  • The system, method, and computer readable medium as described in accordance with embodiments of the present invention may be used to assure that the toll authority captures vehicle tolls using the VES system. The method and system provides means for the toll authority to maximize revenue when leveraging VES collection models for capturing vehicle tolls.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, a method for determining a toll amount comprises determining a capture rate of transports at a toll location and determining the toll amount based on the capture rate. The toll location includes at least one of: a specific toll lane, a toll gate, a toll plaza, a wireless toll collection system, a toll region, and a toll system in its entirety. As such, varying rates can be provided for utilization of a single lane all the way to the entire system thus allowing variable pricing based on location or type of toll property used. Further, a “range” of minimum and maximum charges could be applied based on the location and/or the type of toll property used.
  • The method also comprises determining a multiplier value based on the capture rate of the toll location, wherein the determining the multiplier occurs after the determining the capture rate, determining the multiplier value by dividing 1 by the capture rate, determining the multiplier value by a following calculation: 1/(capture rate %*1), and billing the toll amount, wherein the capture rate is at least one of: detecting an unauthorized transport, detecting a percentage of unauthorized transports, and detecting a number of unauthorized transports, wherein the capture rate is determined by at least one of: a toll authority, a third party entity, a toll rental entity, an electronic device and a human being, wherein the capture is determined by at least one of: a manual process, an automatic process, a semi-automatic process, a static process, and a dynamic process.
  • The following example shows the revenue loss which occurs when the system according to the present invention is not being used to capture vehicle tolls:
  • Capture Rate=40%.
  • 1000 Cars pass through VES system.
  • $1 is captured per toll
  • 40% capture rate
  • Toll Authority Revenue=0.4*1000*$1
  • Toll Authority Revenue=400*$1=$400
  • Now the same variables will be used in accordance with the present invention which enables the toll authority to capture 100% of the VTOLLS.
  • 1000 Cars pass through VES tolling system
  • $1 is captured per toll
  • 40% capture rate
  • Multiplier=2.5 (see table above for multiplier)
  • Toll Authority Revenue=0.4*1000*$1*2.5
  • Toll Authority Revenue=400*$1*2.5
  • Toll Authority Revenue=$400*2.5
  • Toll Authority Revenue=$1000
  • The formula for Total Toll Authority Revenue in the system according to the present invention is as follows:
  • TTAR=Total Toll Authority Revenue
  • X=Toll Capture Rate %
  • Y=Toll Gate Fee
  • Z=Actual Vehicles passing through Toll Gate
  • M=Multiplier for VTOLLS

  • TTAR=X*Y*Z*M
  • The formula for an individual Toll will be as follows:
  • ITR=Individual Toll Revenue

  • ITR=Y*M
  • For example in a Toll Authority where the Capture rate=40% (multiplier=2.5)
  • Toll Gate Fee=$1.00
  • ITR=$1.00*2.5
  • ITR=$2.50
  • In another embodiment of the present invention, a computer readable medium comprises instructions for: determining a capture rate of transports at a toll location, determining a multiplier, and determining a toll amount based on the capture rate and the multiplier, wherein the multiplier is based on the capture rate, determining a revenue amount based on the capture rate, a number of the transports at the toll location, a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location, and the multiplier, determining a revenue amount based on a following calculation: the capture rate*a number of the transports at the toll location*a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location*the multiplier, determining a revenue amount based on a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location and the multiplier, determining a revenue amount based on a following calculation: a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location*the multiplier, altering the multiplier if the capture rate is altered, and billing the toll amount.
  • In a further embodiment of the present invention, a system for determining a toll amount comprises a first entity that determines a capture rate of transports at a toll location, wherein the first entity is at least one of: a toll authority and a toll rental entity and a second entity that determines the toll amount based on the capture rate, wherein the second entity is at least one of: the toll authority and the toll rental entity. The toll amount is stored and/or the toll amount is billed by at least one of: the toll authority and the toll rental entity.
  • It should be realized that the embodiments of the present invention utilize a multiplier model based upon the video capture rate at various toll roads, toll gates, toll plazas or toll systems. As an example, a particular toll road such as, for example, the newer George Bush Turnpike may have a higher video capture rate compared to the older Dallas North Tollway. Thus, the present invention utilizes different multipliers based upon the video capture rate of the various toll roads. Using the multipliers allows for a greater percentage of actual tolls to be collected
  • It is thus believed that the operation and system of the present invention will be apparent from the foregoing description and figures. While the method shown or described has been characterized as being preferred, it will be obvious that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims (20)

1. A method for determining a toll amount, comprising:
determining a capture rate of transports at a toll location; and
determining the toll amount based on the capture rate.
2. The method of claim 1 comprising determining a multiplier value based on the capture rate of the toll location.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the determining the multiplier occurs after the determining the capture rate.
4. The method of claim 2 comprising determining the multiplier value by dividing 1 by the capture rate.
5. The method of claim 2 comprising determining the multiplier value by a following calculation: 1/(capture rate %*1).
6. The method of claim 1 comprising billing the toll amount.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the capture rate is at least one of:
detecting an unauthorized transport;
detecting a percentage of unauthorized transports; and
detecting a number of unauthorized transports.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the capture rate is determined by at least one of:
a toll authority;
a third party entity;
a toll rental entity;
an electronic device; and
a human being.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the capture is determined by at least one of:
a manual process;
an automatic process;
a semi-automatic process;
a static process; and
a dynamic process.
10. A computer readable medium comprising instructions for:
determining a capture rate of transports at a toll location;
determining a multiplier; and
determining a toll amount based on the capture rate and the multiplier.
11. The computer readable medium of claim 10, wherein the multiplier is based on the capture rate.
12. The computer readable medium of claim 10 comprising instructions for determining a revenue amount based on the capture rate, a number of the transports at the toll location, a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location, and the multiplier.
13. The computer readable medium of claim 10 comprising instructions for determining a revenue amount based on a following calculation: the capture rate*a number of the transports at the toll location*a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location*the multiplier.
14. The computer readable medium of claim 10 comprising instructions for determining a revenue amount based on a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location and the multiplier.
15. The computer readable medium of claim 10 comprising instructions for determining a revenue amount based on a following calculation: a cost per transport for utilizing the toll location*the multiplier.
16. The computer readable medium of claim 10 comprising instructions for altering the multiplier if the capture rate is altered.
17. The computer readable medium of claim 10 comprising instructions for billing the toll amount.
18. A system for determining a toll amount, comprising:
a first entity that determines a capture rate of transports at a toll location, wherein the first entity is at least one of: a toll authority and a toll collection entity; and
a second entity that determines the toll amount based on the capture rate, wherein the second entity is at least one of: the toll authority and the toll collection entity.
19. The system of claim 18, wherein the toll amount is stored by at least one of: the toll authority and the toll collection entity.
20. The system of claim 18, wherein the toll amount is billed by at least one of: the toll authority and the toll collection entity.
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