The present international trend is towards a change from fixed to variable prices as a function of the level of demand. It is clearly visible for the citizen in the ambit of flights and hotel rooms. This trend is also gaining weight in the area of highway tolls.
The case of highways is similar to that of hotels and flights: low prices may achieve full sales, but the price has to be fine tuned in order not to damage benefits. The case of highways is a more delicate one, because:
On the other hand Dynamic Toll Pricing policies have actually gained a relevant position as strategic components of the Dynamic Traffic Management Systems, especially from the perspective of Integrated Corridor Management, with the aim to ease the levels of congestion in the traffic network, balance the levels of service in the arterials that integrate a corridor and maximize the economic return of the toll system.
Betterways implements dynamic systems for real time calculation of optimum toll prices. The system has two operational levels. The first level is based on the identification of traffic state profiles and their correspondence with a specific policy of toll rates previously optimized. The policies are constantly improved by a permanent cycle that compares the expected results versus the accomplished results. The second level integrates short term traffic prediction and adjusts the rates taking into account not only the present state but also its evolution. This level of management gives place to a proactive management that increases the capacity of the infrastructure and lowers the risk of falling into congestion or, in other words, reduces the necessity of managing the flows using generous margins of security.