Free Flow shows Itself to be an effective tolling system after just two years of operation

Over less than two years of operation, the Central Ring Road (CRR) has reported more than 160,000 toll transactions per day based on its collected statistics. This data is sent to the Central Control Center (ССС) in real time for purposes of vehicle accounting, monitoring, and verification. The maximum daily record for the number of transactions was set at 324,594 in the early summer.

Viktoriya Erkenova, Deputy Chair of the Board for Intelligent Transport Systems and Digital Transformation at Avtodor State Corporation, Igor Kolmagorov, Deputy Director of the IT Department and Intelligent Transport Systems and Director of the Design Office of Avtodor State Corporation, and Marsel Nigmetzyanov, General Director of General Operator Ltd, talked to students of Moscow Automobile and Road Construction State Technical University (MADI) about how the Free Flow tolling system works on the CRR and what exactly an automated traffic control system (ATCS) is.

Viktoriya Erkenova explained, “We fully launched the CRR in the summer of 2021. More than 113 million user trips have been recorded so far by Free Flow. That is a really large number. As was already mentioned, according to the system’s statistics, more than 160,000 toll transactions are recorded by the Avtodor’s tolling system each day. This year, the number of trips peaked at 37,000 vehicles per day, as recorded in early August of this year. Russians were heading south for vacation, and the interchange from the CRR to M4 was the busiest section.”

Igor Kolmagorov also commented, “In summing up the results of the Free Flow tolling system over a two-year period, it has clearly proven effective. We are currently deploying it along the M12 highway. We have already opened two sections, at the 22nd and 26th km. The average traffic is now 4,000−5,000 vehicles, with the maximum peaking at 7,000. When the system was launched on the CRR in 2020, the traffic was 3,000−6,000 vehicles per day. Now the peak traffic is 37,000 vehicles/day. That is, after we open the entire M12, the traffic will increase many times over, just like it has happened on the CRR. All the advanced technologies that have already been deployed on the CRR: Free Flow, a state-of-the-art incident detection system, and a driver assistance system with emergency responders, will be implemented on the M12.”

Viktoriya Erkenova added, “We have a unified tolling system. It is something that we can be rightfully proud of. It was fully developed in Russia. The Avtodor State Corporation possess intellectual property rights to it. This system receives data from all the roads operated by Avtodor, and the M12 is no exception. All toll transactions are recorded in this system. You can see a screen behind me that shows all of the transactions on the M12. They are processed the same way as the ones on the CRR. It is being done by the same group of specialists, and we intend to keep up the good work.”

If you analyze the performance of the emergency responders and the ATCS on the CRR over the last two years, then you can see that we managed to prevent more than 9,000 potential accidents by sending emergency responders to accident sites and notifying other road users in a timely fashion.

Marsel Nigmetzyanov noted, “Our statistics prove that the use of an ITS encompassing a traffic control system and emergency responders on the toll road allows us to cut the accident rate by almost half compared to those sections where there are no traffic control systems and emergency responders. This can be done, first of all, by notifying drivers and reducing the response time. That is, we provide advance notification about traffic situations using the road infrastructure, so that drivers could avoid collisions or emergency stops. And, of course, if incidents happen, then the emergency responders will be on the scene in no more than 15 minutes. Remember that these are minutes within the ‘golden hour’, which is when victims have the best chance to survive. Emergency responders are well-trained and have skills that could help in a variety of ways, from minor break downs and bringing fuel to providing first aid.”