New Toll Collection System Coming to Croatian Motorways

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The Transport Ministry is looking for new ways to collects tolls.

At the end of July, the Ministry of Transport announced a public call for the selection of consultants to draft the Study for the Development of the Electronic Toll Collection System in Croatia, as part of the Project of Modernization and Restructuring of the Road Sector. The study is funded by the World Bank, in the context of the financial restructuring of road companies, reports Jutarnji List on 10 August 2017.

From the description accompanying the call, which has been largely defined by World Bank representatives, it is apparent that potential consultants are discreetly pointed towards the electronic toll collection system via satellites and ENC (electronic toll collection) devices. It is also noted that vignettes as a means of payment should not be considered, given that they were discarded in an earlier study funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). It is suggested that it is necessary to avoid unreasonable investments in temporary equipment that would become obsolete by the introduction of the new system.

People involved in the change of the toll collection system in Croatia say that this sentence primarily refers to the previously discussed use of toll-charging devices. Namely, two years ago, the Ministry of Transport and the Croatian Motorways public company (HAC) had a plan to introduce toll-charging devices at several toll collection stations. The criterion was the amount of traffic at a particular toll station. At that time, it was envisaged that, in the first phase, the automatic collection devices would be introduced at tolling stations Ravča, Prgomet, Vrpolje, Blato and Vučevica. These are smaller tolling station where traffic is extremely light.

The cost of the plan was seven million kuna, which included the installation of ten devices, plus a management centre. It was estimated that the introduction of automatic toll collection at these five toll stations would save around seven million kunas per year. Since the plan of the Ministry of Transport is to introduce a new toll collection system by 2021 at the latest, it would be entirely irrational to install devices that would become unnecessary by the introduction of new technology in a year or two. Also, sources say that this system is suitable just for low-traffic stations. Placing such devices at the Lučko or Dugopolje toll collection stations, for example, would not be feasible during the summer season.

The tender dossier also states that the tolls have to be charged per kilometre and that the amount of exhaust gases should be taken into account.

All these provisions are in line with the recent transport package presented by the European Commission, with a particular emphasis on the introduction of digital toll collection. EU member states are advised that the fees should be based on distance travelled and not time period, which means that vignettes should no longer be used.

According to the European Commission’s idea, electronic toll collection would use mobile technology with standardised digital boxes in each vehicle. Prices would be determined on the basis of carbon dioxide emissions, and zero emission vehicles would have a compulsory discount of 75 percent.

Which electronic billing system would be used in Croatia? The bidding documents refer to the recommendation from the EBRD study, which states that the DSRC (digital short-range communication) system and GNSS (global navigation system) should be considered. Sources from the Ministry believe say that the introduction of the DSRC system for Croatia would be best because it has already been partially implemented through ENC devices. As for the GNSS system, it could be used for trucks and buses, which has already started in Belgium, with Slovenia doing the same next year.

In practice, the communication system would be installed on motorway portals, and the ENC device would register when the car has entered and exited the motorway. It would be necessary to agree at the European level on a model of ENC equipment so that drivers could use the same device in multiple countries. As far as the satellite toll collection system is concerned, the Ministry sources still consider it unreliable.

If an automatic toll collection system is really introduced, there would no longer be a need for toll stations, while the number of employees would be significantly reduced.

The bidding documentation states that the submissions can be sent until 31 August and that the selected consultant must produce the study within nine months.

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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