SmartBrief recently spoke with International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association President Mark Compton about the group’s recent annual meeting, the importance of diversity in the tolling industry and what the future has in store.
One of the key themes at the IBTTA Annual Meeting was collaboration. What can you tell us about how organizations in the tolling industry are continuing to work together to improve the next generation of transportation and infrastructure?
Collaboration was on full display at the annual meeting. It was shown in the initiatives being discussed in the Lost Revenue Task Force; it was demonstrated within the multitude of discussions related to the development of IBTTA’s forthcoming strategic plan. At no other time in its history has IBTTA had so many ongoing initiatives underway with such a cross section of dedicated professionals involved. I love how IBTTA members always come prepared to take off their organizational hats and put on their industry hat. They’re committed to supporting the investments and technologies that will benefit the entire tolling industry, and that’s what has enabled IBTTA to flourish through the pandemic.
Diversity, equity and inclusion continue to play a key role in how all industries evolve, and at the annual meeting we saw the North Texas Tollway Authority honored for its efforts in this area. How have you seen member organizations striving to improve diversity within their organizations and equity in transportation?
I want to congratulate my good friend James Hoffman and the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) on winning IBTTA’s first-ever Diversity Award. This was well deserved for NTTA and I know many of us are looking to replicate their efforts and others like them in our own organizations. Our industry recognizes that diversity, equity and inclusion are now synonymous with success. As leaders, we realize that we will not improve and excel without welcoming different thoughts, accepting people who do not look like we do and appreciating everyone’s perspective regardless of their race, color, sex, creed or sexual orientation.
As our “War Time President” Samuel Johnson, who led IBTTA through the pandemic’s worst year, always says about our industry, this association and their future, “together.” We’ll accomplish these things and achieve a better industry and a better organization only if we do so “together.” What I saw at the annual meeting was a hunger to learn more about how we can work together to leave footprints in this area not only in the industry but in the world, so that those that follow us have a path toward an even brighter, more diverse and more equitable future. This is a key component of IBTTA’s strategic plan moving forward and will be on the minds of IBTTA’s incoming leadership as well.
As electronic tolling becomes the norm, what steps has the industry taken in ensuring drivers’ privacy is maintained?
This is top of mind for all of us. There have been significant investments in firewalls and other protections, data audits, industry-wide benchmarking and opportunities for community and customer input as well—all geared toward ensuring that drivers can trust tolling operators with the information they need to deliver a world-class customer experience every time they use one of our roadways. It is important that our customers have confidence that our systems will not compromise them, and that’s why every organization in the tolling industry has taken steps to both protect this data and educate customers about how we’re using it and what it allows us to give them.
2021 was a year of recovery for many industries, the tolling industry included. What do you expect 2022 to bring?
Under the leadership of our next president, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, I believe that 2022 will bring IBTTA and the entire tolling industry to even greater heights. I believe that we will begin to mainstream the hybrid balance. We will be able to continue to meet virtually to ensure that we maximize inclusion while we also meet in person for our key conferences and meetings. I believe that we will begin to accomplish the key components of what will be our newly adopted strategic plan.
I also believe that Diane will remind us of just how fortunate we are to be able to work in an industry we love; we will not take our ability to gather for granted again. Diane’s focus on “soft infrastructure” will show each community our industry touches that we care about them and want to make their lives better. Her leadership will also demonstrate to young people that we truly are an industry worth investing in. The future is bright for tolling and for IBTTA and that will shine through in 2022.