Mike King, Transportation Secretary and Director of the Kansas Turnpike, shares his thoughts on KTA’s recent decision pertaining to interoperability with Oklahoma.
Change is constant. It spurs growth and innovation. Personally, I like change. I like it even better when it’s tied to good customer service and economic development.
Gov. Sam Brownback and I agree this move is not only good for travelers, it’s also good for business. It’s a fine example of bringing good business ideas to life and something he wanted to see through the formalized partnership between KDOT and KTA. This is why I’m very pleased we recently decided to embark on interoperability with Oklahoma.
Interoperability is something the Kansas Turnpike has considered for about two decades. Recently though, our customers having been telling us, through various surveys and focus groups, they want to use one ‘tag’ for electronic toll collection rather than multiple devices. In essence, they want us to be ‘interoperable’ with other states. Based upon this feedback, we decided it was time to give interoperability a fresh look.
Since Oklahoma is a bordering state, and we have a good working relationship with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, we started there. For the past several months key leaders from both Kansas and Oklahoma have discussed logistical details of this new business partnership. We concluded the time is right to add this service to our electronic toll collection program and the board endorsed the plan.
In the coming months we will be working with Oklahoma on a few final details. We need to ensure the system works as planned so our customers are satisfied with the change. If everything goes as expected we’ll be interoperable by the end of the year.
Interoperability is just one of many ideas we are working on to improve our customers’ travel experience. This change alone removes the need for two electronic devices, decreases the need for cash, eases congestion, speeds up travel and perhaps will spur economic growth. Ultimately, it will be simpler for travelers to go between the two states. And that, is a good thing!