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Avis Budget Group Plans to Put Interoperable Toll Transponders on the Road
The car and truck rental agency would be the first to install TransCore's eZGo Anywhere transponders, which are interoperable with most toll-collection systems.
Dec 23, 2008—Car rental company Avis Budget Group is collaborating with the Highway Toll Administration (HTA), an electronic toll-payment service provider, and RFID technology firm TransCore to begin the deployment of TransCore's eZGo Anywhere RFID transponders in 2009. The transponders will enable customers to pass through toll plazas throughout much of the United States, and be billed at a later date.
According to TransCore, eZGo Anywhere is the first active RFID tag capable of working with nearly all tollway RFID readers around the country, including E-ZPass in the Northeast, Texas' TxTag and Florida's SunPass. The car rental firm—which already provides local electronic toll devices for some of its Avis Rent A Car, Budget Rent A Car and Budget Truck Rental vehicles—intends to have the system in operation at the end of the second quarter of 2009, says Michael Caron, Avis Budget Group's VP of product and program development, as long as the various local toll authorities sign on to the project.
With more than 350,000 vehicles on the road nationwide, Avis Budget Group is the largest car and truck rental company in the United States. For the past three years, it has provided many cars with RFID transponders attached to their windshields that pay tolls at local tollbooths. As a customer pays for a car rental, he or she can also sign up for the eToll system, at a cost of $1.50 per day. With the service, the user provides a credit card number that is then linked to the unique ID number on the car's transponder, and directed to HTA. Each time the user passes through a local tollbooth, the ID number is captured and forwarded to HTA, which then bills that person's credit card company directly.
The eToll system has been well received by Avis Budget Group's customers, Caron says, with more than 50,000 cars equipped with E-ZPass transponders for the Northeast alone, and with 9 million toll events recorded since the company introduced the service in the spring of 2006. However, he notes, the system has shortcomings that the eZGo Anywhere tag would resolve. The various eToll transponders are not interoperable, he explains. At present, E-ZPass is accepted only in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. So if a vehicle were rented in an E-ZPass state, its transponder would be useless in other regions.
In September 2008, TransCore, an RFID and vehicle-tracking product company located in Harrisburg, Pa., debuted its multiprotocol transponder (see RFID News Roundup: TransCore Unveils Tag Designed for Most Toll-Collection Systems). TransCore provides RFID transponders for local agencies, such as Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE), which created the SunPass toll-collection system. The company already had a background in toll-collection RFID technology, says Kelly Gravelle, TransCore's chief technical officer, and had been developing the eZGo Anywhere transponder for approximately a year. The active RFID tag, which operates at 902-928 MHz, has a non-replaceable battery with a life of about 10 years.
The transponder is capable of operating in read-write mode and adjusting its characteristics to meet the protocol needs of each tollway region. For example, in a region in which—for security purposes—the interrogator sends an authentication command, the transponder is capable of receiving that transmission and responding with the appropriate code to verify its authenticity.
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