Quick Q&A on E-Tolling

By: First Car Rental  08-10-2011
Keywords: Car Hire, Car Rental, Car Rental Service

Quick Q&A with Melissa Storey, Executive Head: Strategy, Development & Marketing at First Car Rental

Which date will E-Tolling be live?

There are various rumours surrounding this subject, but there is no definite date as yet – speculation currently suggests October 2011, but AARTO was supposed to be live countrywide in 2007... but we cannot ignore the gigantic gantries that have been erected on Gauteng's major highways.

What impact do you expect the new E-Tolling system will have on car rental companies? What challenges does this sector face?

Apart from the time and resources spent on the technical preparation for this project, there will be a huge cost implication to our existing business the moment the SANRAL project goes live.

Not only does it affect our customer's pocket and perception of car rental costs when collecting a vehicle from OR Tambo, but there are mandatory vehicle movements between ORTIA and our depot to ensure that our customers receive a clean and fuel-filled vehicle - so a newly built gantry between the Airport off-ramp and Voortrekker Road ensures that we incur a cost each and every time a car leaves from or to the airport.

Taking the only available side-road will put immense pressure on this secondary road, and most probably incur a similar cost to that of a toll fee when fuel, wear and tear is taken into consideration - what is worse is that the majority of the car rental companies are faced with this problem.

The industry will also most probably refrain from most delivery or collection rental products, as it will become unaffordable for our industry and therefore our consumers.

How will car rental companies collect these fees from their customers?

We have a seamless electronic process that will match the toll fee incurred for a specific fleet vehicle at a specific date and time to the relevant vehicle movement within our operating system.

There are various pre-determined vehicle movement types within our operating system, one of the movement types relate to a vehicle being out on rent.

Should a "toll fee date and time stamp" relate to a rental, then we will automatically bill the customer irrespective of market sector or method of payment.

How will vehicles from other regions be taxed for using the Gauteng freeways?

We will fit all Gauteng fleet vehicles with an e-tag, but SANRAL will also have a process in place to identify registration numbers from the camera images - staff that index the registration number in question, which will make the toll fee available on our SANRAL integrated system - these charges are likely to only be processed after rental termination and will therefore be charged automatically as a sundry invoice.

When the "“out-of-town" vehicle terminates at a Gauteng branch, we will fit it with an e-tag to ensure that any future toll-fees incurred can be processed as soon as we receive the electronic record from SANRAL, We would obviously prefer this charge to reflect on the initial invoice - but SANRAL's inability to process the volumes in real-time will have a major impact on this.

In Conclusion
We have to make mention of that fact that we are not in support of this initiative, it would have been far easier for authorities to increase fuel tax and proportion a contribution to SANRAL to fund road improvement and maintenance. The only reason why we are allocating resources to this "“project" is due to the fact that it will have a major impact on our business should the authorities decide to continue with their efforts to implement E-Tolling in future.

Keywords: Car Hire, Car Rental, Car Rental Service

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