The implementation of a Free Flow Toll System in Brazil will make toll charges more equitable but changes in legislation will be required.
In several countries, like Chile and Portugal, the implementation of the Free Flow Toll Charge System has resulted in more equitable toll charges, as the user pays for each kilometer driven and not only when he passes a toll booth. However, to implement the system requires more advanced technology and vehicles must be equipped with tags that electronically record when each vehicle enters and exits the road.
Today in Brazil, most people who use the roads within the metropolitan areas do not pay for their use because the toll booths of major roads, like Presidente Dutra, Ayrton Senna and Anchieta, are located outside of the metropolitan areas where the amount of traffic is greater. People who live outside of the main cities drive back and forth on these roads every day. Even more, road companies state that the operational costs of these stretches of road are much higher, requiring more roadside assistance and emergency medical services. So others pay a higher toll fee to fund those who do not pay.
Another problem on Brazilian roads is that there are only toll booths on privatized roads, most of these are concentrated in the Southeast, primarily in the states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. In the other federal states the highways are still managed by governments and since a few years there has not been any fee for their use. This means that people are not used to paying a toll, which may result in some resistance to the new system.
According to specialists, the technology required for this system already exists and has been tested in other countries. The issue is to adapt Brazilian legislation to allow for the use of this toll fee system. It will require the mandatory use of a tag. In Chile, the lack of a tag is a serious traffic violation. Another change that must occur is in the vehicle classification by axle, as it exists now. This classification must change in order to implement the toll charges. Specialists explain that the electronic system classifies vehicles by length. This must be reviewed in the current legislation.
One of the first steps has already been taken with the development of Siniav (National System for Automated Vehicle Identification). This system foresees that before the end of 2012 all light and commercial vehicles, trucks, buses, scooters and all motorcycles must be equipped with a Siniav chip. The project will work with electronic identification signs that will be installed in all cars. Any data about the vehicle can be read via antennas by the processing centers. This will make it possible to implement a toll charge per kilometer driven. Under the Siniav project, vehicles without a tag will not be allowed on the road. This measure is justified because of the urgency to invest in technology that will also increase the security of vehicles.
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However, parts of Brazilian society still reject this new system as they fear it may imply an invasion of privacy. Everyday new websites and blogs emerge that discuss the 'major problem" of tolls. These usually only address the negative aspects and feed the ghost of an invasion of privacy. But the benefits should be quite clear. One in particular will delight many people: fewer traffic congestions on holidays and end of year travel, when thousands of cars try to drive through a toll booth at the same time. With the tags, the toll charges will be automated.
The system is very simple; a sensor identifies the vehicle by the chip, verifies when the vehicle enters and exits the road, and calculates how many kilometers were driven. The charge will be sent to the user's home address. In some cases, like the system that is currently used by privatized road operators, the toll is charged to a credit card or a prepaid card system
Specialists believe that with an informative campaign people will soon realize that the charge system per kilometer, using tags, is much more beneficial. Each vehicle will only pay for what it actually uses, vehicle traffic will flow much smoother as there will no longer be any toll booths and it will be even easier to identify stolen cars or criminals. The system will help to better manage the traffic flow.
One of the aspects that may delay the implementation process concerns the privatized road contracts. A change in the system will require a change in these contracts and this may take some time.
In November, during TranspoQuip 2012, this theme will be discussed once again by several companies from this sector, both in Brazil and from around the world. Some good examples include 3M, Aldis, ARH, Celsis, Digicom, Imagsa, Iteris, Quercus, Sterela/ Surivision and Traficon and Velsis. All these companies will be gathering in São Paulo to attend the largest transportation infrastructure trade fair in Latin America. The event will also present the new Siniav and the first tests that have been conducted on roads in São Paulo in January of 2012.
Experts will share experiences from other countries, discuss the challenges in the implementation and monitoring, and present technological innovations that will further improve the traffic flow. Representatives from government, the public sector and non-governmental organizations will be attending TranspoQuip 2012.