How are toll payments collected in India?
Toll payments in India are collected through cash payments at toll booths and electronic toll collection using RFID technology for FASTags. In 2019, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways mentioned that fastag is mandatory for toll payments. While almost a vast majority of 97% of people switched to FASTags, around 3% still make cash payments which requires twice the amount of money paid for tolls using FASTags. Interestingly, the government has decided to remove toll plazas in the near future with the aim to facilitate a far more seamless driving experience on national highways.
What alternatives are available if we remove toll plazas?
Though introducing FASTags has reduced the time spent waiting in toll lanes, there are certain issues that arise with low balance or blacklisted FASTags that cause delays at toll plazas. Moreover, cash payments are subject to bribery and other issues which have to be efficiently addressed. In order to ensure a seamless experience for commuters, there is a need to remove toll plazas. No toll booths on national highways need not be a matter of concern because innovative technologies have been developed and are in the pipeline to be implemented.
The government plans to introduce an automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) in order to make the process more efficient. This is a cutting-edge technology that leverages optical character recognition to decode vehicle registration plates with the help of sophisticated CCTV cameras or specially designed cameras. As an alternative, the government will be implementing a GPS based toll collection system. This will allow them to track and determine fees, taking into account the specific route each vehicle takes along the highway.
The challenges of using ANPR and GPS for toll collection
There are a number of challenges involved in implementing an automatic number-plate recognition system (ANPR) as an alternative to the decision of having no toll booths on national highways. For instance, number plates issued before 2019 cannot be captured by these cameras because current registration plates are high-security registration (HSRP) plates that provide more detailed vehicle information. In order to address this issue, the government is planning to replace older license plates.
The GPS based toll collection system also has its complications including the need to make GPS devices mandatory for all vehicles. Additionally, the potential for misuse of personal information or even breach of privacy rights is a matter of concern when GPS for toll collection. Moreover, accurately assessing tolls can be a difficult task, as GPS signals are liable to interference from tall structures or adverse weather conditions. This could result in incorrect readings and ultimately inappropriately charged fees for the driver.
Why is it still necessary to have a Fastag for toll payments?
There are a number of benefits of using FASTags for commercial vehicles. Driving a commercial vehicle on a tight schedule can make traversing toll lanes difficult. FASTags, however, offer an easy and convenient way to pay quickly without hassle and if you run into any issues while using your tag, there is always the customer support team or client portal of the FASTag provider for assistance. While the Government plans to remove toll plazas, there is still time for the change to be implemented, until which, FASTag is mandatory.
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Let’s Wrap Up!
In India, paying for tolls is done either by cash or electronically with an RFID FASTag. Recently, the government has planned to remove toll plazas in order to provide a more seamless experience while driving on national highways. For this purpose, they have introduced an automated number plate recognition system (ANPR) and a GPS based toll collection system which has its own set of limitations. Though these systems might replace toll booths in the near future, there is still time until which, FASTag is mandatory and proves to be a convenient system of paying tolls especially for commercial vehicles with strict delivery schedules.
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