Problem Identification – EZ Pass

For this week’s discussion, please answer the following question:

In the 1990’s, a task force was formed by seven regional transportation agencies to investigate the feasibility and desirability of electronic toll collection (ETC) via small transceivers called tags. The task force was most interested in identifying the ideal configuration of service attributes for each agency’s commuters, and determining how similar or different these configurations might be across agencies. Six questions the task force identified were:

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• How many accounts are necessary and what statements will be received?

• How and where does one pay for EZPass?

• What lanes are available for use and how they are controlled?

• Is the tag transferable to other vehicles?

• What is the price of the tag and possible service charge?

• What are other possible uses for the EZPass tag (airport parking, gasoline purchases, and so forth)?

From a researcher’s perspective, it also seemed important to assess commuter demand for the service, but the task force was not convinced that it needed a projection of demand because it was committed to implementing ETC regardless of initial commuter acceptance. The task force viewed its principal role to be investigating commuters’ preferences for how the service should be configured ideally.

Questions

• Evaluate the problem-definition process. Has the problem been defined adequately so that a relevant decision statement can be written?

• What type of research design would you recommend for this project?

• What research questions might be tested?

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