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Future Europe features a podcast episode from each of the EU’s 28 Member States. Each episode tells the story of a project that illuminates the way Europeans will live in the future. All the stories are told through the voices of people involved in the projects.
Slovenia automated toll speeds transit
Situated on the Adriatic Sea and bordering four countries, Slovenia’s 600-kilometre motorway network is vital to the movement of people and goods across the EU.
“Slovenia is the most transited country in this region. 80% of driven kilometers by heavy vehicles on our motorways are made by foreign vehicles,” says Tomaž Vidic president of the Board of Management for DARS, the company in charge of operating the country’s motorway system.
In April 2018, Slovenia unveiled a new system, DARS GO, specifically for heavy vehicles. “It’s an open system without gantries for heavy vehicles, and it has been very well accepted by customers. Expected revenue for this first year is €260 million,” says Matej Kranjc, the director of the project.
Trucks are no longer required to stop and pay at toll stations. Instead, microwave tags inside vehicles record when they pass under receivers mounted on overhead gantries. Physical toll stations are being dismantled, easing traffic flow.
Slovenia automated tolls open roads for travel and business:
The European Investment Bank loan has assisted DARS in four key areas:
- development of technology to allow for automated electronic toll collection, ensuring a more efficient and less costly way to gather revenue
- demolition of old toll stations, reducing blockages on the motorways and enabling the free flow of traffic
- installation of overhead gantries and on-board devices to ensure that the system functions with minimum disruption to the road network
- logistical support for DARS in dealing with the technical, logistical and organizational challenges involved in undertaking the project and its launch
The EIB lent DARS €51millon to assist with the implementation of the DARS GO project. The loan is backed by the guarantee of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
According to Tomaž Vidic that assistance was invaluable for the motorway operator. “I’m very glad and proud that the introduction of the new system, but it was tough. Our team work very hard on it, for a number of years. The EIB was the most important bank lender for DARS. One third of the loans we needed came from them. It would have been much costlier for us to have undertaken the project without this help.”
Why Slovenia automated toll works for the EU bank
“The project itself lies at the core of the transport network,” says Francesco Ferrero, a loan officer based at the EIB’s headquarters in Luxembourg.
“It represents a clear image of the connection and interaction between different countries,” he adds. ““Moreover, we have seen quite an innovative component in this project, including the efficiency boost for DARS which can now benefit of real-time data integrated with its operations: that is something that Europe is keen to support.”
The absence of barriers and toll plazas has had an immediate and positive impact. The number of accidents on the motorway system have fallen, given the absence of barriers. The reduction in stopping and starting has meant less wear and tear, along with lower fuel consumption for trucks