With radio tags from Oct 31, you won’t have to stop to pay at highway toll booths | india-news | Hindustan Times
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With radio tags from Oct 31, you won’t have to stop to pay at highway toll booths

A vehicle installed with Radio Frequency Identification also called FastTags that can be recharged once the balance is zero, will be able to drive past a toll plaza without having to stop and pay the toll.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2017 16:53 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Long queues at the Kherki Daula toll plaza in Gurgaon.
Long queues at the Kherki Daula toll plaza in Gurgaon.(File)

The Union road transport and highways ministry’s much-hyped Electronic Toll Collection (ETC), which will allow commuters to travel seamlessly on highways without having to wait in long queues to pay a toll tax, will finally kick off in all the 370 toll plazas across the country by October 31 over five years after the system was announced.

Initially, however, only two toll lanes on a highway will be earmarked for the interoperable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag based ETC system.

“We will expand the lanes earmarked for fast tag users depending on its penetration. Though 100% of the toll lanes will be equipped with ETC infrastructure, as of now only two lanes will be earmarked for smart tag users. In the remaining lanes, people can pay by cash, credit card, PayTM,” YS Malik, road transport and highways secretary. told Hindustan Times.

A vehicle installed with the RFID also called FastTags that can be recharged once the balance becomes zero, will be able to drive past a toll plaza without having to stop and pay the toll. The tag will a unique code that will help identify the vehicles so when they will pass through a plaza, the system will read the code and automatically deduct the toll.

As of now, only a single lane in a handful of highway stretches in the country, including Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Mumbai, are ETC enabled.

The project has been a non-starter for long. Initially, there was reluctance on the part of concessionaires to come on board. Also, the two banks that were selected initially to act as the central clearinghouse and manage toll transactions were not able to sell the smart tags.

As of now, of the 40,00,000 vehicles plying on highways, 620,000 have been installed with the RFID tags. “Our aim is to get 15,00,000 vehicles installed with the smart tags by March 2018,” Malik added.

Currently, there are six private and public sector banks that have been appointed to run the central clearinghouse and manage all toll transactions.

If the ministry is successful in starting the RFID tag based ETC across the 370 toll plazas operational in the country, India would become the only one to have a uniform interoperable ETC facility across its length and breadth. The United States and Europe use different ETC system in different cities.

The RFID tags can be installed by automobile manufacturers at their end or alternatively, drivers can buy the FastTags from the designated banks and toll plazas.

Though initially it will be used for ETC, the system can also be scaled up at a later stage for helping security agencies track stolen vehicles.