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Government moves towards open toll system for highways

Highway users, there is good news round the corner. Soon, you will not have to stop for payment at every toll plaza. Samiran Saha reports.

business Updated: Oct 19, 2009 20:39 IST
Samiran Saha

Highway users, there is good news round the corner. Soon, you will not have to stop for payment at every toll plaza.

Open sesame: a dash past the hurdles

What?
Open road tolling (ORT) means collection of toll without using collection booths on highways.

Why?
ORT would enable vehicles to pass through highways without having to stop to pay toll each time they enter a paid highway. This will reduce travel time.

How?
Tolls are typically collected using radio frequency identification (RFID) devices such as smart cards that are tagged on vehicles that avail the system. There are pre-paid as well as post-paid options.

Where?
ORT has been successfully implemented in Singapore, London, Oslo, Stockholm and other cities. In Chile, the highway tolling system is entirely on ORT.

ORT in India
Pilot projects will begin from October 31, on tolled stretches between Gurgaon and Jaipur, Panipat and Jalandhar and Surat-Dasihar.

How will it help?
There is a toll plaza after every 60 km of highways in India. Between Delhi and Mumbai there are 20 toll plazas

The government is on the verge of introducing an open road tolling (ORT) system in the country, by which toll payment would become a one-time transaction per trip.

The toll fees will be deducted either from the users’ bank account, or it collected at the beginning of the journey, in the manner of pre-paid or post-paid phone connections.

The ministry of road, transport and highways (MoRTH) will on October 31 start a six-month pilot project to test the efficacy of ORT on three stretches on the national highways.

Three systems of ORT — Active, Passive and Calm tolling systems — would be tested for suitability.

The active tolling system (a microwave tag-based system that sends or receives signals) will be tested on the Gurgaon-
Jaipur stretch. The passive system (also microwave-based, but only send signals) on the Panipat-Jalandhar stretch. The calm ORT system, an infrared-based system that sends and receives signals and works on an optical fibre network, will be tried on the Surat-Dasihar stretch.

“We will finalise a system that is best suited for India. The tests have to be very elaborate and that is why they will carry on for six months,” a senior official at the ministry, who did not wish to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, told Hindustan Times.

A third party will independently evaluate the three systems for suitability for use in India.

The new toll system will significantly reduce the time spent by commercial vehicles at tollbooths. For instance, a commercial vehicle plying between Delhi and Mumbai has to stop at 20 toll plazas.

On an average, there is a toll plaza every 60 km in India.

“It will be a very good thing. Separate lanes for the new toll system will result in significant saving of travel time," said Anil K.G., resident consultant of Bangalore-based logistics company Transworld International, which runs a fleet of 150 trucks.