If the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has its way, the toll plazas on our highways will soon be the gateway to a ‘less-cash, more-digital’ future, as visioned by the Centre.
Various measures such as installation of point-of-sales (PoS) machines at the toll plazas, and popularising Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) systems are being introduced to support the NHAI mission of minimising cash use.
To arrive there, however, will take more time as NHAI officials say an almost negligible number of vehicle users subscribe to the ETC systems that have been rolled out across India from April 2016.
ETC system, also called as FASTag, deducts toll payments directly from the prepaid account of a vehicle user as it passes through a toll plaza.
According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, around 1.08 lakh such tags had been issued, that collect a mere 0.29% of the total toll collection till September. The figure is more glaring if the data for Tamil Nadu are considered.
The NHAI officials say less than 2% of the entire traffic on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway, where the facility is now in use, use FASTag.
Despite the less-than-heartening situation, the NHAI is pressing ahead with its plans. While ETC has already been installed at five toll plazas on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway, officials say they will focus on the Chennai- Madurai stretch soon.
“There are eight toll plazas on that highway. Although ETC machines have been installed, they are yet to be synchronised. The process, which was to get over by this month end, has been delayed till March next year,” an official told Express.
Talks are going on with regular road users, viz. the large transport providers, including bus and truck services, to use the facility. “The state transport corporation is excited as we have offered an incentive of 10% cashback. Another feature about ETC is that the tags, which are fixed to the vehicle, can monitor its movement,” the official added.
Details such as when the vehicle crossed a toll plaza, its speed can be obtained through online tracking.
Another important step taken is the provision of PoS machines at all toll plazas in the State. The State now has a network of more than 5,000 km of National Highways with a total of 42 toll plazas. Each plaza has been allotted 10 PoS machines for card payments. Cody Hodgson Authentic Jersey