Drivers using the fast lane to Tel Aviv that opened last Friday may not know it, but besides enjoying rapid entry into the bustling metropolis, they are also the first consumers in the world of an innovative dynamic toll system whose rates vary with traffic congestion.
The system shows drivers a toll that varies in accordance with rush hour and off-peak times. It is also supposed to predict traffic volume, calculate demand (in other words, the highest toll that a driver will be prepared to pay for using the fast lane), and taking into account the cost of work time lost while stuck in traffic.
The system was developed by Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; XETRA: SIE), the technology vendor chosen by Shafir Civil and Marine Engineering Ltd., the fast lane franchisee. The system cost NIS 120 million, including the set-up cost and the financing and maintenance cost during the franchise period.
"This is the first project of its kind, so the product is very interesting for us, including for other markets," said Siemens Mobility project manager Martin Bode, the top figure at the company in this field who came to Israel last week to view the opening ceremony from up close. "We have many similar projects, but we have no project quite like this. Even in the US, toll roads use a fixed toll. We want to accumulate experience here before we offer the solution to the entire market." Bode (57) has spent the last 20 years travelling to sites where Siemens Mobility is involved.
"I believe that there will demand for this kind of system in large cities worldwide, but it will have to be customized for each city. I believe that our competitors are waiting to see how this works in Israel, before they release their solutions to the market."
"Globes": From your experience, where should Israel make strategic investments in transport?
Bode: "Israel, like other countries, should focus on traffic congestion. The fast lane could be a cornerstone for other toll roads, but I believe that there is no alternative to reducing the number of cars entering large cities. Obviously, it is necessary to see to a good mass transit system at the same time."
Bode is pleased by Siemens's solution. "This is a high-quality system that identifies a vehicle by camera, and can cross-reference this information with the Ministry of Transport database, rendering superfluous the need to install a device in the vehicle, such as is necessary for Road 6 (the Cross Israel Highway toll road). Installation is easy, and there are fairly advanced options for remote support. It's so easy now, and that makes a huge difference."
Shafir chose Orad Hi-Tec Systems Ltd. (XETRA: OHT) as the technology vendor to install Siemens's system. Bode praised the Israeli partner, saying, "We worked with the regional management from afar. We didn’t have to send a team of our own at all."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 10, 2011
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