Australian and global tolling leaders tackle challenges in keeping transport moving

ITS (UK)’s partner organisation ITS Australia says the NeTC conference, now in its 13th year, is “proving to remain as relevant today as when it was created in 2006”.

It says that, whilst the topics have progressed to include in 2018 how Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) might interact with toll road infrastructure, the challenges of keeping transport moving remain top of the agenda.

The emergence of increasingly connected and automated vehicles is expected to lead to fundamental changes to roads, transport and cities in the future. The industry is talking these challenges and the changes in the flow of vehicles on the roads to more easily accommodate all journeys.

Changes are being made now to make a difference to travellers’ experiences in the near-term. With an ever-increasing demand for road journeys, ways are being sought to convey growing populations to their everyday destinations – often a city-centre, or cross-city location.

Other approaches are looking to minimise the impact of heavy vehicles and freight on the roads, to keep heavy vehicles and freight to the main arterial roads, and away from local streets.

To support population and congestion increases, particularly in inner-city suburbs, large, exciting infrastructure projects are under development to move traffic away from local roads more quickly. In NSW, WestConnex is one such project which, whilst widening and extending the M4 motorway and connecting it to the M5, will result in a 9km tunnel – an Australian first!

Another progressive infrastructure project is the regional Toowoomba Second Range Crossing toll road. This 41km road is the largest regional toll road project in Queensland’s history. Scheduled to be completed in 2019, the second range crossing will take heavy and super-heavy highway traffic around north of Toowoomba rather than through it. This project aims to reduce road and driver safety, reduce travel time and increase freight efficiencies.

NeTC2018 conference attendees also heard updates from international speakers including Q-Free ASA Chief Technologist, Knut Evensen who noted that “Australia is amongst the leaders in standards and deployments in connected vehicle infrastructure. Whilst urban ITS is a quickly growing field with strong links to Smart Cities, Automated Mobility and Big Data, there is a need for standards to be developed to ensure future road tolling technology will be one of the primary toolkits to achieve the needs of future smart cities mobility”.

Telematics technology is also again featuring as a hot topic with proof of concept activity investigating toll road use and identify potential toll road solutions for heavy vehicles freight.

Tom Walker, CEO Cubic Transportation, which was the major sponsor at NeTC2018 said “The National Electronic Tolling Conference provides an exciting opportunity for government, industry and academia to share their knowledge, form partnerships and discuss new technologies that could help overcome current and future transport challenges.

“Transport serves us best when all modes are connected. With multi-modal transportation at the core of future mobility services, tolling needs to become part of the wider mobility as a service trend. This offers an exciting opportunity for tolling agencies to appeal to a wider number of commuters who may not typically consider a toll roads part of their journey.”

Susan Harris, CEO ITS Australia said “NeTC2018 has again exceeded our expectations in terms of forward thinking, transport technology related activities. There were many insightful presentations by our speakers and we’re looking forward to seeing the next wave of infrastructure projects in this arena.

“The NeTC conference is a forum for all areas of industry to meet and talk about how the future of road infrastructure will interact with many areas of transport technology, and how the industry will keep transport moving in times of increased road use. To help this aim, we will continue to host this conference for the leaders in this space.”

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