Here’s Looking at You
Perhaps it was a “Miracle on the Turnpike,” but when a small commuter plane landed on the New Jersey Turnpike earlier this year, no one was hurt. The pilot and a local TV reporter were gathering traffic information for several TV and radio stations when a low oil pressure indicator came on in the plane. Shortly before 7:00 a.m., the pilot landed the plane on the northbound lanes of the turnpike in Cherry Hill, NJ. “This was pretty much a non-incident in terms of what the outcome was like,” said New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Joseph Orlando. “The plane landed, he taxied it over into the shoulder. We can’t even get motorists to do that when they break down.”
When it’s not looking out for small aircraft landings, the NJTA is responsible for the safe, efficient movement of people and goods over two of the busiest toll roads in America, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, which stretch 150 and 170 miles, respectively.
The NJTA is responsible for monitoring every toll on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. They collect data on each vehicle that passes through a toll and on every transaction that occurs between the collector and the driver. They also record video of every vehicle and transaction. Prior to 2006, the NJTA was monitoring the tolls using an analog-based video transaction multiplexing system. However, three years ago they converted to a digital-based system because it offered the best cost-efficient solution to their video transaction audit requirements.
The NJTA uses a solution from Agilence to monitor each transaction that occurs in every cash and E-ZPass toll on the turnpike and parkway. A transaction takes place every time that a toll is paid. Each transaction consists of multiple events, such as when the collector inputs a payment, or when he enters the classification of a vehicle. The system takes the data and video from the transaction and multiplexes them into one application that the NJTA can monitor. The NJTA calls this Video Transaction Data Multiplexing (VTDM).
“We could never successfully monitor all of the tolls on the turnpike and parkway without a camera-based system with the transaction details,” explains Greg Megow, assistant director of ETC Operations at the NJTA. “The transaction details alert us to any problems, and the video verifies the issue.”