Antwerp: seducing road users to change their route using toll reduction


One of the SOCRATES services that will be tested in the Antwerp region is the so-called use case “Smart Tunnel Service’”. The idea is to deliver smart traffic and navigation services to road users whose route passes one of the two river crossings in Antwerp in order to optimise the network traffic flow and improve the distribution of traffic over the two river crossings. We talked to Patrick Deknudt (Flemish Traffic Centre), who is the pilot site leader for the Antwerp pilotsite.


What is the problem?

Sometimes, there is a sub-optimal distribution of traffic over the 2 river crossings in Antwerp, in which tolling costs could be part of the cause. At the Liefkenshoektunnel there is a fixed rate toll cost, which can be suspended in case of major accidents. This is already an existing service, however, service providers do not consider toll suspension in their routing services, and routing advices from the road authority are not followed (enough) by travellers. Whitin the SOCRATES2.0 project, toll suspension in case of major accidents will be added as a new feature in the existing navigation services. But the ambition within the SOCRATES2.0 project goes further. Even in a day-to-day traffic situation, the aim is to establish a more balanced use of both river crossings. Therefor, a new ‘Smart tunnel service’ will be deployed, with dedicated toll reductions for dedicated users in order to optimise the network traffic flow and improve the distribution of traffic over the two river crossings.


What solution are you working on?

With this services we advise travellers to switch routes when toll is suspended, in order to optimise the network traffic flow and improve the distribution of traffic over the two river crossings. In case toll is suspended two variants will be implemented: one in which information on toll suspension will be included in SOCRATES2.0 services & brought in-car (merely informing on the measure). And one in which the measure will be taken into account by the private service providers routing algorithm and advice. In case toll is not suspended, but the network state is such that a redistribution of traffic is desirable, some road users are incentivised to follow up the re-routing advice, by offering toll reduction vouchers. Watch this video to see how this smart tunnel service works:



How does this work?

In case a redistribution of traffic is desirable the Network Manager (intermediary role) provides toll reduction vouchers to service providers. Subsequently, service providers can advise road users to re-route from Kennedytunnel to Liefkenshoektunnel. If the road user that accept this alternative route, will be offered a toll reduction as a voucher with a QRcode on their mobile device. This voucher then serves as a payment method at the Liefkenshoektunnel toll boots. Road users can decide whether to re-route (and receive the voucher) or not.


One of the main learning objectives of SOCRATES2.0 is to test different public-private cooperation models and to study the types of and need for intermediary roles. How is the cooperation between public and private partners being shaped for this service?

To realise this use case The Flemish Traffic Centre is working with private Service Providers (BMW Group, BE-Mobile and BrandMKRS) and an ITS company. MAPtm will fill in the intermediary role. Based on the provided information from the Flemish Traffic Centre (actual traffic state in both tunnels) they identify a sub-optimal traffic distribution and potential effective measures to solve the problem based on available public and private services. At this moment the partners are discussing the triggers (or KPI’s) on when to start/stop issuing the reduction vouchers for the use of the Liefkenshoektunnel, and on how many vouchers are made available. The so-called Network Manager role distributes service requests to the service providers and receives feedback on the performance of the deployed service and uses it to improve the corresponding scenario. Successful implementation will be measured by the actual use of the vouchers.


What changes need to be made?

The tunnel operator has already purchased scanners to scan the QRcodes at the toll booths. Our Traffic Centre will have to adapt the traffic information output. We need to incorporate extra information on the toll situation at Liefkenshoektunnel. The involved Service Providers need to make changes to their back offices and systems to be able to receive and process the extra information (for example in their algorithms). Also, they need to update their services and design a user interface for this service.


This service will be made available for existing users of different apps? Which ones and when will they be available?

Three service providers will offer this new service: BMW Group, Be-Mobile/Flitsmeister and BrandMKRS/Livecrowd will offer information on toll suspension. BMW Group and Be-Mobile will also take the toll information into account in their navigation advice in case toll is suspended, and they will offer the smart tunnel service with the reduction vouchers to their road users in case a limited shift of traffic from the Kennedytunnel towards the Liefkenshoektunnel is desirable.


Do you want to be a test user? Pre-register here.