MORE GROWTH AND IMPROVEMENTS IN SECOND YEAR OF TOLLING
Crossings and prepaid accounts increase, and new services offered
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 6, 2019) – The second year of RiverLink tolling saw more drivers with prepaid accounts and transponders, more crossings on the new and improved bridges, faster connections to customer service and new services for customers. RiverLink is the all-electronic tolling system for the Louisville – Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project.
There were 32.3 million crossings on the three tolled bridges connecting Louisville and Southern Indiana in 2018, an increase of more than 8 percent from 2017 (the first full year of tolling). A significant number of people opened RiverLink accounts and acquired transponders in the second year of tolling. At the end of 2018, more than 193,000 accounts had been opened, an increase of 29 percent for the year. The number of transponders requested was up 27 percent for the year, with nearly 425,000 transponders requested to date.
“It takes time for people to adjust to new travel routes and a new tolling system,” said Megan McLain, innovative finance manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “The increase in crossings and account growth tells us that more people are using the system in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible in this second year of tolling. With prepaid accounts and transponders, they’re paying the lowest toll rates every time they cross a tolled bridge.”
Improvements to the tolling system, including new services, were also a focus in the second year of tolling.
“We want the system to work well for all drivers who are using our tolled bridges,” said Jerry Hoover, the Indiana Department of Transportation director of tolling operations for the Ohio River Bridges. “Reducing the amount of time to connect with customer service was a priority and we delivered. We also added new services like online account conversion and Pay by Plate, offering drivers a new, convenient way to pay tolls owed.”
Online account conversion launched in early 2018, allowing qualifying drivers to open prepaid accounts and save on tolls and fees owed. The online feature allows drivers to open an account in a few easy steps and see immediate savings. The one-time conversion offer is only available before an account reaches collection status (fourth toll notice). When drivers open an account, tolls are lowered to transponder rates and late fees are waived.
More than 12,500 qualifying drivers who owed back tolls and fees opened RiverLink accounts in 2018. Savings totaled nearly $1.5 million dollars with tolls reduced and late fees waived. Customers who took advantage of account conversion saved an average of $120.
Pay by Plate launched in September, giving drivers without prepaid accounts and transponders a new option to pay tolls. Drivers can use their license plate number and other identifying information to pay tolls owed online before receiving an invoice. If the trip has not posted, drivers can enter their preferred contact information and will be notified of transactions that post in the next 30 days.
Pay by Plate has been a popular addition, with more than 2,000 accounts paid and more than 10,000 people signing up for Pay by Plate notifications from September to December 2018.
Faster Customer Service
It was easier to connect with RiverLink customer service representatives, with customers spending less time waiting for assistance. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the average speed to answer a call was 35 seconds, a decrease of nearly 10 minutes from the fourth quarter of 2017.
RiverLink customer service received an average of more than 42,000 calls each month in 2018.
Improvements were also made to the RiverLink website, making it faster and easier for customers to find the information they need. Information was streamlined and Quick Links and Traveler Tips were added to the site. Additions and improvements make it easier for customers to get needed information and manage their accounts online.
Crossings on Tolled Bridges
More vehicles crossed tolled bridges in 2018, with an increase every quarter when compared to 2017. Total crossings on tolled bridges topped 8 million in the second quarter of 2018 and stayed above 8 million the last two quarters of the year. Fourth quarter weekday crossings in 2018 were up nearly 13 percent from the same time last year.
Transponders and Accounts
Significant growth was seen in the number of drivers with prepaid accounts and transponders, but the percentage of drivers crossing tolled bridges with transponders remained stable for the year. Drivers save more than $2 per crossing with a prepaid account and transponder. It’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to cross a tolled bridge.
The number of drivers who qualified for the frequent-user discount was consistent in 2018. The frequent-user discount is only for drivers in passenger vehicles with RiverLink personal accounts with a positive balance. The discount is per transponder, not per account.
Revenue to Date
Revenue numbers are preliminary for the fourth quarter. In the third and fourth quarters of 2018, nearly $55.3 million was collected and split evenly between Indiana and Kentucky. An additional $4.3 million will be received from E-ZPass systems in other states (drivers who crossed the tolled Ohio River bridges with E-ZPass transponders from other states).
The billing cycle is still active, and additional money is being collected from vehicle owners who have received invoices. Since the start of tolling on Dec. 30, 2016, $186.4 million has been collected and split evenly between the two states.
Revenue collected to date is in line with expectations, and both states are meeting their financial obligations for the Bridges Project. Toll revenue is used to meet financial obligations of the project and for operations and maintenance of the project area.