We had a “name that tag” contest among Port Authority employees and the two best suggestions were E-ZPass and By Pass. I really liked By Pass but the group wisely thought that the association with coronary heart disease was too close for comfort so they chose E-ZPass. Again I deferred to their wisdom and they were right on this one.
Looking Ahead 20 years later
Twenty years ago electronic toll collection created customers, the people with a direct and personal connection to their toll authority. E-ZPass allowed those customers to access services from a multitude of toll facilities using the same tag and account.
Today other modes of transportation have adopted and are adopting the account-based system approach. The most prominent transit system, called Ventra, is rolling out in Chicago. We are seeing other modes also adopt this model: On street parking, airport parking, Zipcars and others. With the proliferation of paid transportation services in cities there is a need for a simplified payment mechanism. Nobody wants to manage a dozen or more transportation payment accounts.
The tolling industry is going through a modernization phase to update its back office systems, improving the quality of their customer relationship management as well as the financial security and integrity of their back-office systems, among other things. Interest in interoperability is very strong in the tolling industry, where many see an opportunity to leverage advances in technology and open systems.
Surprisingly, given the trends toward account-based payment and interoperability, both of these industries have a great deal of commonality in their infrastructure requirements, even though their actual point-of-payment applications are quite different.
So 20 years after E-ZPass helped to set these trends in motion, what does the present and near future offer? Enormous customer convenience, operational savings, and the enhanced ability to manage an urban transportation network.