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Greece’s Drivers on Athens-Patras Highway Get Toll Break

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Greek police carry out “stringent controls” at Attica road tolls. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS - A long-standing gripe of drivers on Greece’s toll roads - paying the same fare for shorter and longer distances traveled - has been remedied by an electronic toll system which charges only for how far they go - on one highway.

The operation comes from the US-based Kapsch TrafficCom of Virginia and is a Hybrid Multi-Lane Toll System supplementing the payment system on the A8 Athens-Patras motorway that charges drivers for an entire section of road, even if they exit after the first toll barrier, said ITS International.

“The European Union sees traditional section payment as an unfair phase-out model and is pushing to charge only for actual kilometres driven," says Michael Weber, the company’s Strategic Sales Manager.

"This method will be mandatory for new toll routes and a recommended feature for existing toll routes. This means that the changeover on the A8 motorway from Athens to Patras in December 2020 is not only groundbreaking for Greece, but is likely to set a precedent throughout the EU."

To use the new service, cars will be equipped with on-board units attached to the interior windshield.

When the car enters a toll checkpoint, the system will automatically debit the toll costs from the owner's customer account and the barrier will open to allow the vehicle onto the highway.

As the vehicle exits the route, any overpaid costs for the entire section will be credited back to the driver's account in a mileage-based billing transaction.

Municipal officials of cities and towns along the motorway, which was upgraded after notoriously being the country’s deadliest, no barriers between high-speed travel in two directions, asked for the changeover.

According to Kapsch, this is because motorists wanting to avoid the cost of an entire stretch of motorway 8 stayed on roads going through towns, which resulted in a considerable noise and emissions.

Weber predicts that other toll routes in Greece, Spain and Italy are likely to follow the example of the new system.

“The billing technology not only ensures that costs are charged fairly in line with EU recommendations, but can also be expanded to include additional services,” he told ITS.

“For example, it is possible to set the toll for vehicles according to different environmental standards: e-vehicles would pay less than gasoline or diesel, for example."