A toll road
or an express toll route
) is a
privately or publicly built road
for which a
driver pays a toll
(a fee) for use. Structures for
which tolls are charged include toll
and toll tunnels
roads are financed using other sources of revenue
, most typically fuel
or general tax funds. The building or facility in which a
toll is collected may be called a toll booth
, toll station
. This building is usually found on
either side of a bridge
and at exits.
Three systems of toll roads exist: open (with mainline barrier toll
plazas); closed (with entry/exit tolls) and all-electronic toll
collection (no toll booths, only electronic toll collection
gantries at entrances and exits, or at strategic locations on the
mainline of the road).
On an open toll system, all vehicles stop at various locations
along the highway to pay a toll. While this may save money from the
lack of need to construct tolls at every exit, it can cause traffic
congestion, and drivers may be able to avoid tolls (shunpike
) by exiting and re-entering the
With a closed system, vehicles collect a ticket when entering the
highway. In some cases, the ticket displays the toll to be paid on
exit. Upon exit, the driver must pay the amount listed for the
given exit. Should the ticket be lost, a driver must typically pay
the maximum amount possible for travel on that highway. Short toll
roads with no intermediate entries or exits may have only one toll
plaza at one end, with motorists traveling in either direction
paying a flat fee either when they enter or when they exit the toll
road. In a variant of the closed toll system, mainline barriers are
present at the two endpoints of the toll road, and each interchange
has a ramp toll that is paid upon exit or entry. In this case, a
motorist pays a flat fee at the ramp toll and another flat fee at
the end of the toll road; no ticket is necessary.
In an all-electronic system (such as that used on Highway 407
in the Canadian province
of Ontario and the Fort Bend Westpark
in the U.S. state of Texas), no cash toll collection
takes place, tolls are usually collected with the use of a
transponder mounted on the windshield of each vehicle, which is
linked to a customer account which is debited for each use of the
toll road. On some roads, such as Highway 407, automobiles and
light trucks without transponders are permitted to use the road
(though trucks with a gross vehicle weight over 5,000 kilograms
must have a transponder) - a bill for the toll due is then sent to
the registered owner of the vehicle by mail; by contrast, the Fort
Bend Westpark Tollway requires all vehicles to be equipped with a
Modern toll roads often use a combination of the three, with
various entry and exit tolls supplemented by occasional mainline
roads charge a toll in only one direction, such as where the
M4 in Great Britain crosses the River
Severn on either of the two Severn Bridges. On these bridges, it is free to travel from
Wales into England, but a toll
must be paid on the return journey.
This is only practical
where the detour to avoid the toll is very large – in this case
about 40 miles.
Toll payments may be made in cash, by credit card, by pre-paid
card, or by an electronic
system. In some European countries, payment is
made using stickers which are affixed to the windscreen. Some toll
booths are automated. Tolls may vary according to the distance
traveled, the building and maintenance costs of the motorway, and
the type of vehicle.
Early toll roads
Tolls have been placed on roads at various times in history, often
to generate funds for repayment of toll revenue bonds
used to finance
constructions and/or operation
are at least 2700 years old, as tolls had to be paid by travellers
using the Susa–Babylon highway
under the regime of Ashurbanipal, who
reigned in the seventh century BC.Aristotle
refer to tolls in Arabia and other parts of Asia. In India, before the
4th century BC, the Arthasastra notes
the use of tolls.
Germanic tribes charged tolls to
travellers across mountain passes
Tolls were used in the Holy Roman
in the 14th century and 15th century.
century example (though not for a road) is Castle Loevestein in the Netherlands, which was built at a strategic point where 2
rivers meet, and charged tolls on boats sailing along the
Many modern European roads were originally constructed as toll
roads in order to recoup the costs of construction. In 14th century
England, some of the most heavily used roads were repaired
with money raised from tolls by pavage
grants. Turnpike trusts were
established in England from 1706 onwards, and were ultimately
responsible for the maintenance and improvement of most main roads
in England and Wales, until they
were gradually abolished from the 1870s.
improved existing roads, but some new ones, usually only short
stretches of road, were also built. Thomas
Telford's Holyhead road (now the A5
road) is exceptional as a particularly long new road, built in
the early 19th century with many toll booths along its
See also Toll roads in the United
One of the first U.S. toll roads, the Long Island Motor Parkway
opened on October 10, 1908) was built by William Kissam Vanderbilt
II, the great-grandson of Cornelius
. The road was closed in 1938 when it was taken over
by the state of New York in lieu of back taxes.
National toll-road differences
Toll roads are found in many countries. The way they are funded and
operated may differ from country to country. Some of these toll
roads are privately owned and operated. Others are owned by the
government. Some of the government-owned toll roads are privately
Some toll roads are managed under such systems as the Build-Operate-Transfer
Private companies build the roads and are given a limited
franchise. Ownership is transferred to the government when the
franchise expires. Throughout the world, this type of
arrangement is prevalent in Australia,
Korea, Japan, Philippines, and Canada.
system is a fairly new concept that is gaining ground in the
States, with Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Texas, and
Virginia already building and operating toll roads under
this scheme. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New
Jersey, and Tennessee are also considering the BOT methodology for future
The more traditional means of managing toll roads in the United
States is through semi-autonomous public authorities
. New York, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia manage their toll roads in this manner.
While most of the toll roads in California, Delaware, Florida,
Texas, and Virginia are operating under the BOT arrangement, a few
of the older toll roads in these states are still operated by
France, all toll
roads are operated by private companies, and the government takes a
part of their profit.
Critics of toll roads
Toll roads have been criticized as being inefficient in three ways:
- They require vehicles to stop or slow down, manual toll
collection wastes time and raises vehicle operating costs.
- Collection costs can absorb up to one-third of revenues, and
revenue theft is considered to be comparatively easy.
- Where the tolled roads are less congested than the parallel
"free" roads, the traffic diversion resulting from the tolls
increases congestion on the road system and reduces its
Toll collection technology
An adaptation of military "identification friend or foe
technology, called electronic toll collection
lessening the delay incurred in toll collection. The electronic
system determines whether a passing car is enrolled in the program,
alerts enforcers if it is not. The accounts of registered cars are
debited automatically without stopping or even opening a window.
is used as a wireless protocol.
Other systems are based on GPRS
technology. Such a system (for
trucks only) in Germany launched successfully in January 2005 and by the
end of its first year of operation will have charged tolls for
around 22 billion driven kilometres.
One of the advantages
of GPS-based systems is their ability to adapt easily and quickly
to changes in charge parameters (road classes, vehicle types,
emission levels, time slots, etc.). Another advantage is the
systems' ability to support other value-added services on the same
technology platform. These services might include fleet and vehicle
engine management systems, emergency response services,
pay-as-you-drive insurance services and navigation
The first major deployment of an RFID electronic toll collection
in the United States was on the Dallas North Tollway
in 1989 by
The Amtech RFID
technology used on the Dallas
North Tollway was originally developed at Sandia Labs for use in
tagging and tracking livestock. In the same year, the Telepass
active transponder RFID system was
introduced across Italy.
Highway 407 in the province of
Ontario, Canada has no toll
booths, and instead reads a transponder mounted on the windshields
of each vehicle using the road (the rear license plates of vehicles
lacking a transponder are photographed when they enter and exit the
This made the highway the first all-automated
highway in the world. A bill is mailed monthly for usage of the
407. Lower charges are levied on frequent 407 users who carry
electronic transponders in their vehicles. The approach has not
been without controversy: In 2002 the 407 ETR a class action with a
refund to users. The same method is used on Highway 6 in Israel and the
reversible lanes of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown
Expressway in Hillsborough County, Florida (in the latter case, the system reads SunPass transponders).
Throughout most of the East Coast of the United
States, E-ZPass (operated under the
brands I-Pass in Illinois, i-Zoom in Indiana, and Fast Lane in Massachusetts) is accepted on almost all toll roads.
systems include SunPass in Florida and FasTrak in California.
The systems use a small radio transponder
mounted in or on a customer's
vehicle to deduct toll fares from a pre-paid account as the vehicle
passes through the toll barrier. This reduces manpower at toll
booths and increases traffic flow and fuel efficiency by reducing
the need for complete stops to pay tolls at these locations.
By designing a tollgate specifically for electronic collection, it
is possible to carry out open-road tolling, where the customer does
not need to slow at all when passing through the tollgate.
state of Texas is testing a
system on a stretch of Texas 121 that has no toll booths.
Drivers without a TollTag have their license plate photographed
automatically and the registered owner will receive a monthly bill,
at a higher rate than those vehicles with TollTags.
Another feature of many electronic toll collection systems is
interagency interoperability, where the same transponder is
accepted at many toll agencies. For instance, the E-ZPass tag is accepted at most toll facilities in
United States, from Virginia to Maine, west to
Bridge spanning the Niagara River, and in Indiana and Illinois. Ohio is scheduled
to join E-ZPass for the Ohio Turnpike
in 2009. The TxTAG system allows
interoperability throughout the state of Texas, but is not
compatible with systems used outside of Texas.
Electronic toll collection systems also have drawbacks. A computer
glitch can result in delays several miles long. Some U.S. state
turnpike commissions have debated implementing E-ZPass but have
found that such a system would be ineffective because most of the
people who use the turnpike are not commuters, are from states that
have no ETS on turnpikes, or are from states that don't have a
turnpike at all. The toll plazas of some turnpikes are antiquated
because they were originally built for traffic that stops to pay
the toll or get a ticket.
The technology does have its limits. For instance, the Highway 407
technology has a reputation for the
occasional misread plate, leading to bills being sent to motorists
in remote parts of Ontario who have never been near the tollway.
The Ontario government responded to complaints by hiring an
ombudsman to address 407 toll complaints.
For toll roads, a "closed system" refers to a road where a motorist
obtains a ticket upon entering the toll road, then pays a toll upon
exiting the expressway. The toll is calculated by the distance
travelled on the toll road. The Ohio
and the Pennsylvania
currently implement closed systems. In contrast, a
toll road using an 'open system' consists of mainline toll plazas
(a.k.a., toll barriers) at set intervals; it is possible for
motorists to get on an 'open toll road' after one toll barrier and
exit before the next one, thus travelling on the toll road
toll-free. Most open toll roads have ramp tolls or partial access
junctions to prevent this.
Toll road gallery
417 University Toll Plaza.jpg|A high-speed toll booth on SR 417 near Orlando,
FloridaImage:Sayama Loop toll road-2005-6-5.jpg|On
the Sayama bypass (Saitama prefectural road 397) in JapanImage:New Jersey Turnpike toll gate.jpg|A
New Jersey Turnpike Toll Gate
for Exit 8A in Monroe Township, NJFile:163rd Street Open Road Tolling
Lane.jpg|The open road tolling
lanes at the West 163rd Street toll plaza, on the Tri-State Tollway near Hazel Crest,
IllinoisImage:Caseta San Marcos
(Mexico-Puebla).jpg|Toll gate San Marcos, at the México-Puebla autopista (MexicoImage:Gurgaonway.jpg|Traffic at rush hour on
India's largest and the world's second largest toll plaza
in Gurgaon, Haryana.
gantry at North Bridge Road.
table of tolls in pre-decimal currency for the College Road,
Dulwich, London SE21 tollgate.Image:Toll-gates.jpg|On the Dom Pedro I Highway near the city of
Itatiba, BrazilImage:Balintawak Toll Barrier.jpg|The
Balintawak Toll Barrier of the North Luzon Expressway located in
areas provide food, fuel, and travel information on the Ohio Turnpike, in the United States.Image:Electronic Toll Equipment in
cameras used to capture rear license plates in Ontario, Canada.