Toll processing can take a number of different forms. Many governments have pushed for the adoption of toll processing systems which increase efficiency and reduce congestion, with toll plazas being a common site for traffic back-ups during periods of heavy traffic, as people are forced to slow or stop to pay the toll. Despite this, some toll collection methods have not changed in centuries.
A toll is a fee which is charged to someone traveling on a specific road or bridge. Some tolls are calculated per use, with a flat fee for entering the area where a toll is required. Others are calculated by length of travel, with people paying a sliding scale depending on where they enter and exit an area where a toll is required. Tolls can also be used to set a congestion pricing system, in which people pay more for entering an area during peak periods of congestion.
In one method of toll processing, people approach a toll booth with a toll collector inside. A gate at the booth remains down while the driver pays the toll collector, and the toll collector raises the gate after the fee is collected to allow the driver to pass. Some toll crossings have an automated version of this system, in which people throw money or tokens into a basket which counts the money to make sure the toll has been paid and then raises the gate to allow someone through. The drawback to both of these methods is that people must come to a complete stop for toll processing.
In electronic toll processing, a badge in a driver's car is read as the vehicle passes through a collection point. Drivers may need to slow for the reading, although more advanced systems can allow traffic through at a normal rate of speed. Every time the driver passes through, funds are deducted automatically from a driver's account; with many systems, drivers can “charge up” their passes with a deposit of funds.
The term “toll processing” is also used to describe a manufacturing process, sometimes called toll manufacturing, in which a manufacturer blends or processes raw materials on behalf of people who cannot do this processing on their own. For example, a company which sells massage oils could have these oils manufactured through toll processing, with another company making the oil blends used by the company and charging a fee on the basis of the volume of processing requested.