A high-tech electronic toll gantry that uses cameras to allocate tolls has been installed on Tauranga's Route K, the NZ Transport Agency says.
The electronic gantry is the second of its kind to be installed on New Zealand roads, with an identical toll point already in place on the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL).
The new Route K toll gantry was put in place overnight on Sunday April 12. It will become operational by August 2015 when the Transport Agency takes over ownership of the road from Tauranga City Council (TCC).
There will be no need for toll booths, allowing drivers to travel straight through. This will reduce travel times and provide a more predictable journey.
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The Transport Agency's Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional director, Harry Wilson said the new electronic toll point would use the latest optical character recognition technology to capture images of each vehicles front and rear registration plates as people travel underneath.
"The gantry has 16 cameras which will read the registration plates and determine the size of the vehicle and whether it is a motorcycle, car, truck, or bus so the correct toll can be assigned," he said.
"There will be no need for toll booths, allowing drivers to travel straight through. This will reduce travel times and provide a more predictable journey. "
In preparation for the change, the Transport Agency was upgrading the back-end tolling system, offering customers a range of ways to pay their tolls after July.
"People will be able to set up a pre-pay account or pay as they go either online, through the 0800 number or at selected service stations," Mr Wilson said.
"One account will cover all three toll roads, Route K, the TEL and the Northern Gateway Toll Road, north of Auckland. Those who have already set up an account for the Northern Gateway Toll Road will have their details transferred over automatically."
Road users will continue to pay their toll to Tauranga City Council at the existing toll booths until the electronic gantry goes live in July and the toll booths are removed.
Tauranga City Council Route K account holders will be given instructions on how to set up a new account with the Transport Agency in May, two months before the new toll point is commissioned.
The Route K toll tariff will be $1.80 and $4.80 once electronic tolling is commissioned. The toll tariff was reassessed against the other two toll roads and the benefits and value that the roads present to users.
Mr Wilson said after the ownership transfer, Route K will be added to the state highway network, completing the national strategic freight route to the Port of Tauranga.
"Tauranga City Council and the Transport Agency recognise that Route K provides a strategic connection between State Highway 29 (SH29) and the Port of Tauranga and have been working collaboratively since 2011 to change Route K from a local road to a state highway.
"The road will be added to the state highway network becoming the tolled section of State Highway 29."
Electronic tolling - How do I pay?
Payment of the toll tariff will be able to be made through a number of channels:
• Customers will be able to set up an account that will cover travel on all three roads, choosing to either automatically or manually top the account up when it gets to a low threshold.
• Commercial customers will be able to set up an account that will cover travel on all three roads where they are invoiced at the end of each month.
• Customers who would like to pay as they go will be able to pay online, via the 0800 number or at selected service stations.
• People will have five days to pay after travelling on a toll road, but if payment is not received an additional administration fee will be charged.
• E-tags will not be needed under this system as all activity is tracked though the vehicle's registration plate.