It’s back to Brussels for the 13th Annual Road User Charging Conference. Check out this year’s line up of internationally renowned speakers for the road pricing sector’s leading annual event
For the triskaidekaphobics, a 13th annual conference would strike fear in the hearts and a need to lie down until the event went away. Fortunately for the 13th Annual Road User Charging Conference, the conference team are in full flow and enthusiasm to bring you the best conference in the event’s history.
Returning to Brussels after last year’s fantastic event in Amsterdam, this year’s theme is titled Global Perspectives for your Best Route Forward. With a truly international line-up of speakers highlighting best practice in road pricing over two days, this year is not to be missed.
Day One will be chaired by Wouter van Haaften, Senior Researcher at the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Law and regular contributor to Road User Charging. He will preside over sessions including an update and overview of new procedures in toll systems; the big picture around European interoperability; and the North American perspective on road user charging.
The host nation of Belgium will open the conference with an address by Bart Dewandeleer, Vice-president of Viapass, the road charging project of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. He will update delegates on the kilometre-based charge for trucks that will replace the Euro Vignette in April 2016 (see Wouter van Haaften’s article on pg20-21 to read more about the Belgian system). Discussing the timescales and calculations for tariff changes, Dewandeleer will look at the wider issues of enforcement and the technologies required. Always a topical issue, interoperability will also be discussed.
Tolling in Hungary will be discussed by Zoltan Varga, Director of Road Charging at the National Toll Payment Services, the Hungarian public road network toll collector. Varga will take a retrospective and forward looking view of the tolling system in Hungary, discussing the optimisation of both operations and revenues and sharing success stories of best practice. Varga will also detail future plans including integration of smart phones, telematic devices and value added services.
The symbiosis between road charging, congestion and the environment cannot be ignored and so William Todts’ presentation Environmental imperatives: New European Legislation for 2016 is really a must see. Todts is Transport Manager at Transport and Environment, a lobbying body who aims to promote, at EU and global level, a transport policy based on the principles of sustainable development. His presentation will focus on upcoming legislation and what this will mean in terms of the environment, health and congestion.
A benefit to the Road User Charging Conference is to be able to watch and participate in interactive discussions on burning issues. The EETS project and challenges surrounding interoperability is certainly one of those issues. Titled The complexity of the interoperability of transnational toll systems and the delay with the implementation of EETS: What needs to be done and what is realistic to get EETS going? Will see panellists Cathal Masterson, Head of Tolling Operations at Transport Infrastructure Ireland; Hubert Resch, Project Coordinator REETS TEN at ASFiNAG; Jan Szulczyk, Policy Officer at the European Commission; and Eva Tzoneva, President at AETIS discuss the latest surrounding the EETS project and what could be done to finally see the project implemented.
Day one then wraps up with a look at what is going on with schemes in the United States and the challenges being faced in various states with regards to implementation and enforcement.
The second day of the conference will be chaired by Keith Mortimer, Chairman of the RUC Interest Group of ITS UK. He will be presiding over presentations looking at the latest in Asia; Scandinavian tolling reform; GNSS technology and its use as a tolling solution; challenges around European road pricing and the future of congestion zones.
At the recent IBTTA Annual Meeting in Dublin (see pg22-23 for our review) the Taiwanese system for toll collection was awarded the 2015 President’s Award. Delegates to Road User Charging will be able to hear about the award-winning system from Richard Wu, Vice-president of Technology at the Far Eastern Toll Collection Company Ltd. Wu will detail the latest on the system and what lessons have been learnt in its implementation. Also, what does the future hold for road pricing in Asia?
A little closer to home will be Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications’ Assistant Director General (Department of Public Roads and Traffic Safety) Tone Hardeland. As Norway heads into a reformation of its tolling network, Hardeland will explain the rationale behind the reforms and what the changes will mean to the Norwegian system.
After lunch, the conference will close with two panel discussions looking at specific challenges in the sector. The first will look at the challenges of road pricing in Europe and involve speakers such as Thierry Vanelslander, Research Professor Transport, Logistics and Ports from the University of Antwerp; Willy Van Loon, Chairman of Group Van Loon; and Johan Schoups, CEO of VIAPASS. The panel will aim to answer questions such as what impact do the various road pricing systems have on the transport sector in Europe and issues brought up by specific road pricing schemes such as the one in Belgium.
The final panel discussion will see the topic of meeting the needs of future congestion zones debated. Speakers will include Dr Sven Maerivoet, Senior Researcher, Data Enrichment Group of Transport & Mobility Leuven; Steve Kearns, Technology Manager, Technology Delivery Group, Transport for London; Dr Chin Kian Keong, Group Director of the Singapore Land Transport Authority; and Daniel Firth, Chief Strategy Officer at the City of Stockholm Department of Transportation. With the increased urbanisation of many of the world’s biggest cities and the problems this brings, can congestion charging make a positive impact in reducing the number of vehicles on the road? The panel will look at issues including charge collection, environmental impact, best practice implementation and other considerations when looking at congestion charging.
Mix and mingle
During the event there will also be many opportunities to network and meet with colleagues from around the world to discuss specific challenges and maybe make that contact that has the solution to a particular challenge! In addition, a visit to the beautiful city of Brussels is well worth it – as the centre of European politics it has a special place in the regulatory hearts of road pricing as well as many other aspects of daily life. That aside, its beautiful architecture and cultural landmarks make it one of the great European destinations to visit.
The 2016 Road User Charging Conference takes place at the Crowne Plaza Le Palace hotel in Brussels March 2-3, 2016. For more information and to register go to www.roaduserchargingconference.co.uk.
This article was published in the November 2015 issue of Road User Charging