STREETS AND HIGHWAYS/Efforts to improve toll road services pay off in Denver
The E-470 Public Highway Authority (PHA) and Mile High Toll Services, a subsidiary of New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, have implemented initiatives to improve customer relations and ensure efficient toll collection on the E-470 Beltway outside of Denver. The initiatives have helped the organizations meet revenue demands and control traffic volume.
PHA officials realized that, to guarantee financial success, the toll road needed to draw high levels of traffic. The group thought that it could encourage drivers to increase their use of the toll road.
“Historically, toll authorities have operated with considerable autonomy from the traveling public,” says Ed DeLozier, executive director of the PHA. “We have come to realize that there are real benefits to be derived from reaching out to our customer base and making a concerted effort to meet their needs on several different levels.”
To achieve low-cost toll operations and improve customer service, the organizations implemented a series of initiatives, which include:
employee incentives, such as Pay for Performance and employee suggestion programs;
a Mystery Evaluation Program that uses trained evaluators to pose as customers and observe the performance of toll operators;
a courtesy patrol to help stranded motorists and to maintain constant surveillance of toll system operations;
e-mail account applications for potential customers; and
feedback surveys that are conducted semi-annually to gauge customer satisfaction.
According to DeLozier, the results have been significant. “Our emphasis on customer service has brought about an excellent first impression for road users, which has been converted to a lasting good impression,” he says. “The E-470 toll operations have brought about cost savings while ensuring a highly efficient road operation.”
The toll road has received a 2000 Toll Innovation and Excellence Award from the Washington, D.C.-based International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association. Additionally, at a time when many other public/private toll roads are faced with financial difficulties, E-470 meets both traffic volume and revenue projections. In fact, the operation of the 29-mile segment has ensured the financing for the last 12 miles of the loop.