Government makes FASTags free till December 1 to encourage electronic toll payment
FASTags will be given away free from Thursday until December 1 as the government attempts to encourage highway commuters to switch to electronic toll payment in an attempt to ease congestion at toll plazas and reduce traffic bottlenecks.
The offer comes 10 days before FASTags, which entail radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers being affixed on the windscreens of vehicles, become compulsory for motorists on national highways. The system, first introduced in 2016, lets toll booths wirelessly and automatically deduct the fee as the vehicles pass through so that they,don’t have to stop to pay the money .
“We will provide FASTags free of cost from today till December 1 across all National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) authorised point of sales,” Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. “In addition, the security deposit of ₹150 will also be paid by the Centre. We want to encourage everyone to rush to get their FASTags till the December deadline; else they will be charged double the toll.”
The Centre announced in July that FASTags will become compulsory across national highways starting on December 1.
“The announcement of having 100% FASTag lanes was made four months ago. I am happy to share that more than 90% toll lanes across all national highways have been made FASTag-compliant, NHAI chairman Sukhbir Singh Sandhu said. By November 30, 537 toll plazas will have been equipped with the electronic toll collection system, leaving only 17 new plazas that don’t have the infrastructure and will be manned by personnel carrying handheld sets for collecting payments, Sandhu said.
“This is a good initiative; however, there may be significant implementation issues, as there are many vehicles which do not have FASTag. If adequate infrastructure is not available at the toll plaza for these vehicles, it may lead to congestion at the toll plaza and inconvenience to the road users,” said Pranavant, Partner, Deloitte India.
About 1.1 million FASTags are being sold daily at present, according the transport ministry. In the financial year 2018-19, money collected at toll plazas through FASTags came to ₹24.396 crore. Over 6.6 million FASTags have been issued until November with an overall cumulative electronic collection of ₹12,850 crore.