At a time when the world is inventing robots and new technology to make toll plaza collections electronic, the Kherki Daula toll on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway has failed to popularise the tag system in the city.
Less than 30% of the vehicles, which cross the toll every day, have tags. With only a handful of centres to recharge tags, no dedicated toll lanes, ineffective publicity and no online recharge portal, people prefer to make cash transactions.
In several other developed and developing countries and some Indian cities, technologies like Smart Tag, FASTag, Touch and Go and Multi Lane Free Flow have helped in decongesting toll plazas.
Around 180 highways across countries in states such as Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh use the FASTag facility by a private bank. The service allows commuters to recharge tags online.
In other developed countries like USA, the price of tags increase and decrease during morning and evening peak hours. The tolls automatically adjust to the traffic volume on the road. This helps in dividing the traffic flow throughout the day and the toll plaza is never congested at particular times. Moreover, those carpooling are not charged for crossing the toll but single riders pay the toll rates set, promoting ride-sharing and decreasing the overall traffic.
Several applications have also been developed in countries like UAE, Germany, France and the United States, which allow users to pay tolls through their smartphones. One such application, which was recently launched, is Geotoll. The app allows users to cross the toll plaza without stopping to pay. They can do so using their phone. The company plans to expand the product across the world.
“There are so many ways to collect toll tags through electronic transactions. Highway 407 in Canada, one of the busiest toll plazas in the world, has brought in new technology to de-congest the toll but not much is being learnt here,” said Amit Bhatt, transport expert and head of NGO Embarq.
Road expert, Maxwell Pereira, who is also the former joint commissioner of police, Delhi, pointed out that even developing countries are coming forward to take advantage of using tags and other electronic ways to collect toll.
Pereira said, “In Jamaica, a developing country, highways are using tag technology. Tag systems have been installed at a number of plazas and the companies are offering discounts and heavily advertising the system. This is not happening at Kherki Daula toll plaza even after several promises.”