An analysis of implementing open road tolling through the Gauteng freeway improvement project
The aim of this research report is to analyse the feasibility of Open Road Tolling (ORT) and its development in South Africa through the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP). ORT represents the next generation of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) and this research report will assess to what extent the GFIP scheme is in line with other comparable tolling schemes; and is the institutional environment amenable to ORT. This will allow one to gauge the feasibility of the scheme and its potential for acceptability and success. The research report outlines the number of risks that come with an ORT scheme and these include amongst others collection risk, enforcement, technology, privacy and public acceptance. The success of the GFIP will largely be determined by how well these risks are mitigated and how the benefits can be marketed to the users. The literature review illustrates that whether road pricing schemes have failed to move forward, have been implemented, are currently under development, or still in the planning stage as a concept there are several consistent lessons and critical success factors one should apply when structuring a scheme. In the discussions with stakeholders, the following conclusions with regards to the feasibility of ORT and its development in South Africa were as follows: The factors which need to be addressed include political risk, effective marketing of the scheme to the public, obtaining political will and support, building trust between the scheme developer and the user, managing perceptions and acknowledgement of the fact that the scheme will need to prove itself over time. Inadequate demonstration of equity for the user along with poor communication would compromise public acceptance and the success of the scheme. Incorporating interoperability yields benefits in terms in terms of network externalities, the ability to use a single transponder for multiple tolling plazas and points, along with the potential for alternative uses for the transponder. ORT as a viable solution for the GFIP is feasible from a technical point in that it's the only way in which one can collect tolls from a high volume network and not cause disruptions in the flow of traffic. However, there are a number of persistent residual risks that SANRAL cannot entirely mitigate and some fall under the realm of political risk. While SANRAL has applied best practice principles in structuring the GFIP with the aim of providing value for money for the user and as far as possible tackling the issue of affordability, there are certain realities, such as the recent global financial crisis, the infrastructure backlog of the country, users paying for roads which were free and challenges with overall service delivery which place a strain on the legitimacy of the GFIP ORT scheme.