FASTag trials result in long queues at Gurugram’s Kherki Daula toll
The congestion at the Kherki Daula toll plaza took place because many commuters did not have FASTags and they used the cash lanes, officials said.Updated: Dec 14, 2019 12:34 IST
The Kherki Daula toll plaza has witnessed 37 trials of FASTag in the past over one month, but not even one trial yielded the desired results, said the Millennium City Expressway Private Ltd (MCEPL), the concessionaire of the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. Long queues, more commuters paying toll by cash, and shortage of FAStags are some findings by Skylark, the toll operator, during the FASTag trials started by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The congestion at the toll plaza took place because many commuters did not have FASTags and they used the cash lanes, officials said.
Most of the trials have not been implemented throughout all 25 lanes at the toll plaza. To ease out traffic congestion, only two to four lanes on each side were made FASTags during the trials initially. FASTags will be implemented in all but one lane of the toll plaza from December 15.
Rajendra Singh Bhati, project head, Kherki Daula toll plaza, said, “The trial takes place for less than an hour every day. Also, less than four lanes are made FASTags as the number of commuters coming to the toll plaza pay through cash.”
During the trial run, there were days when within 15 minutes the trials went off guard and led to huge traffic jam on the expressway. “On December 9, we started with the trial at 9am and within few minutes there was a long queue of cars going up to Hyatt Hotel. The trial had to be suspended,” said Bhati.
The traffic police had lifted the boom barriers when they saw congestion during the trial runs, the officials said, adding that all 25 lanes at the toll plaza have now been made FASTag compliant.
However, the expressway concessionaire has expressed concern over the lifting of boom barriers when there is a congestion. MCEPL officials said that it will lead to huge monetary loss if the traffic police continue to lift the boom barriers when the FASTags are fully implemented.
Azad Singh, station house officer (SHO), traffic police station-1, said, “We have been directed that there should not be any traffic jam at the Kherki Daula toll plaza. Our officers are only doing their job.” The SHO said that ample number of traffic personnel have been deployed at the toll plaza to see that FASTags are implemented smoothly.
Every single day the expressway concessionaire is giving a trial report to the NHAI. S Raghuraman, CEO, MCEPL, said, “The trials have not gone off well at all. The percentage of commuters who are paying toll through FASTags is still less.”
However, the officials said that increased awareness about the electronic toll payment system will result in reducing the chaos at the toll plaza.
The NHAI officials said that there are enough traffic marshals in the lanes to manage commuters. Ashok Sharma, project director, NHAI, said, “The ministry of road transport and highways had waived off the initial issue cost of FASTags to encourage more commuters to buy the tags. FASTags will go a long way to reduce traffic jams.”
The one good thing which has come out from the trials is that it has encouraged commuters to buy FASTags. Before the trial started, there were around 9,000 commuters paying toll through FASTags. Now, that number has risen to 20,000 in the last few days, said the expressway concessionaire. Anish John, system manager, MCEPL, said, “The trial has motivated commuters to buy FASTags.”
As multiple agencies are issuing FASTags, some of the tags are not read by the RFID (radio frequency identification) readers, said the concessionaire.
State govt gears up for implementation of FASTags
Meanwhile, the state government has asked the local administrations to cooperate with the NHAI for the implementation of FASTags from December 15.
Gurugram deputy commissioner, Amit Khatri, has been directed to ensure crowds are managed properly when the electronic toll collection is implemented at the Kherki Daula toll plaza.
A letter addressed to the deputy commissioner and the NHAI office in Gurugram has mentioned that all support should be given to the highways authority for the implementation of FASTags in the city. “Take necessary steps for handling the situation arising out of the implementation of FASTags, including crowd management at the toll plaza,” read the letter, a copy of which is with HT.
Also, the NHAI headquarters has asked for a report from its Gurugram office after the FASTags are implemented in a week’s time. Skylark, toll operator, has a control room at the plaza where executives have been ordered to maintain a diary of traffic jams, fights, marshals on duty and functioning of RFID readers. Bhati said, “We have instructed our officials to record each event after the FASTags are implemented.
Presently, the toll plaza has got two dedicated lanes for the movement of dignitaries and emergency vehicles like ambulances. But an NHAI official said that there is no provision to keep any VIP lane once the FASTags are implemented, “We haven’t received any directions from NHAI to keep aside any special lane for the movement of VIPs or ambulances once the FASTags will be implemented. Till any solution is found out we have decided not to discontinue with the VIP and emergency lane,” said John of MCEPL.